November 19, 2014

12:19 PM | World Toilet Day - attitudes to poop in the past
I found out that today is World Toilet Day! What better chance then to have a think about toilets and the disposal of human waste in the past. Regular readers will know (and the blog title perhaps suggests...) that coprolites, or fossilised faeces, are a regular feature of my work. A big part of World Toilet Day is about education and the problems of sanitation that many people face on a daily basis. The campaign highlights the fact that excrement is a bit of a taboo topic for many people, it's […]

November 18, 2014

8:47 PM | A Dozen Ways to Make a Mummy
Tomorrow's lecture in bioarchaeology has twelve case studies of mummies from around the world.  Inspired by that (and by my constant foot-dragging when it comes time to write lectures), I give you A Dozen Ways to Make a Mummy, to the tune of Paul Simon's 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.  (Apologies in advance to Mr. Simon, whose work I can't get enough of, even when random people sing Cecilia upon meeting my kid.)A Dozen Ways to Make a MummyThe problem is that a body tends to […]
1:20 PM | November Pieces Of My Mind #1
No, Kim Stanley Robinson, when two groups of characters meet and tell each other what they’ve gone through recently under the reader’s watchful eye, you shouldn’t write that dialogue. Because the reader already knows. Back when my father-in-law the engineer had just come to Sweden from China and worked as a waiter, he used to…

November 17, 2014

6:58 PM | Vases in Pompeii Reveal Panic Before Eruption
The vases were found sealed under a layer of ash and pumice from Mount Vesuvius, and it appears they were just ready to be fired.
6:49 PM | Pompeii Pottery Workshop Frozen in Time: Photos
See photos of vases and kilns as they dropped and abandoned as Mt. Vesuvius' erupted in 79 A.D.
1:20 PM | Stockholm Film Festival 2014
Before this month I’d never attended a film festival in any concerted way. But I was inspired by Ken & Robin’s podcast to do so, and got myself a membership card for the Stockholm Film Festival, 5–16 November. The festival’s excellent web site made it easy for me to choose which viewings to attend. And…

November 15, 2014

6:12 AM | Bones - Season 10, Episode 7 (Review)
The Money Maker on the Merry-Go-RoundEpisode SummaryA bunch of dads playing at the park with their kids find a dead body under a merry-go-round.  The whole merry-go-round is brought back to the Jeffersonian, apparently so that some intestine can fall on Saroyan.  Brennan and Wells estimate sex as male from the lack of subpubic concavity, age-at-death as mid- to late-20s from the auricular surface, and white ancestry from the parabolic dental arch. Saroyan puts time-of-death at 2 to […]

November 13, 2014

6:12 PM | 5,000-Year-Old Footprints Found in Denmark
The Stone Age prints were found alongside a system of fishing weirs. Continue reading →

November 12, 2014

2:35 PM | Ice Age Infant Skeletons Offer Clues to Burial Rites
The fragile skeletons may help researchers understand death rituals practiced during the last ice age in North America.
2:19 PM | On The Road: Mobility of Romans in Britains
The remains of the Roman Empire are found throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East- aqueducts, stadiums, roads, temples, and cemeteries dot the modern landscapes of many European countries. Their […]

Eckardt, H., Müldner, G. & Lewis, M. (2014). People on the move in Roman Britain, World Archaeology, 46 (4) 534-550. DOI: 10.1080/00438243.2014.931821

2:15 PM | Skeleton Emerges From Mysterious Greek Tomb
The skeletal remains were found in and outside a wooden coffin that was contained within a limestone grave. Continue reading →

November 11, 2014

1:00 PM | Bronze Bell from Long-Lost Arctic Shipwreck Revealed
Divers recovered a bronze bell from the wreck of the HMS Erebus, a British ship that was missing for nearly 170 years after an ill-fated expedition to the Canadian Arctic.
4:37 AM | Bones - Season 10, Episode 6 (Review)
The Lost Love in the Foreign LandEpisode SummaryWe open on Cam and Arastoo "making fesenjaan," as they say ("it's the hardest Persian dish!") when a dead body outside of Baltimore interrupts them.  A bunch of goats clearing a field found a dead body. Based on blowfly larvae, Hodgins puts time-of-death at 6 to 7 days ago. Brennan does some forensic-fu and figures that the deceased was a female of Asian descent based on the length of the hip axis. Wear on the mandibular dentition puts her in […]

November 07, 2014

2:34 PM | Week 28 Volunteering at the Royal College of Surgeons
To be honest there isn’t much to add to previous posts about my volunteering work. I’ve been carrying out the same processes and tasks as last week, but with new specimens. I realise that some may find this boring/tedious but I love it. Thursdays at the College are my relief, I really enjoy being sat […]
1:20 PM | Two Stockholm Dissenter Churches De-Sanctified
I follow the decommissioning of Sweden’s churches keenly for several reasons. I like churches, the older the better, but I don’t like the Church much. And I take great interest in the West’s ongoing secularisation process. Before, I’ve blogged about how Maglarp Church was torn down, about how Örja church was sold as housing and…

November 06, 2014

2:30 PM | 'Witch Marks' Carved Into 17th-Century Estate
The marks date to early 1606 and the reign of King James I, a period when superstition and paranoia gripped England.
1:35 PM | 'Demon Traps' Found in 17th-Century English House
The carvings included interlocking V shapes to invoke the protection of the Virgin Mary.

November 05, 2014

3:15 PM | Illegal Dig Unearths Ancient Egyptian Temple
Seven men have been arrested in Egypt after digging up an ancient temple under a house in Giza, just outside Cairo.
1:34 PM | Changes in Society and Diet from the Merovingian to Viking Age
Vikings are a hot topic right now. While I would hope this would be due to their interesting maritime culture, fascinating burial practices or an increased understanding in the important role […]

Naumann E, Price TD & Richards MP (2014). Changes in dietary practices and social organization during the pivotal late iron age period in Norway (AD 550-1030): Isotope analyses of merovingian and viking age human remains., American journal of physical anthropology, 155 (3) 322-31. PMID:


November 04, 2014

1:30 PM | Wreck of 17th-Century Dutch Warship Discovered
The vessel found in the southern Caribbean may be the Huis de Kreuningen, which was lost during a bloody fight between Dutch and French colonists.

November 03, 2014

11:57 AM | Micrograph of the Month: Bits of Bones
For the past few weeks I have been revisiting some old slides from the TP excavation area at Catalhoyuk. I collected these samples  in 2004, and they were some of the first that I worked on for my PhD. At the time I found them a bit disappointing, as there is a lot of bioturbation and erosion  going on in this part of the site, which means that trying to reconstruct activities using microstratigraphic analysis is difficult. The TP area is located very close to the surface of […]
11:33 AM | The identification of Vitamin D Deficiency in Adults from Post-Medieval Sites.
I haven’t been around to do a post on a particular pathology for a while but as I was looking through the International Journal of Paleopathology I came across an article looking at osteomalacia. During my pathology course at Uni we touched on this and therefore thought it would be a good article to focus […]

November 02, 2014

3:39 AM | Bones - Season 10, Episode 5 (Review)
The Corpse at the ConventionEpisode SummaryBrennan is the keynote speaker at the fictional National Forensic Sciences Convention and plans to tell the Schroedinger's cat joke.  At the convention, Hodgins has a run-in with an old nemesis, Leona Saunders, and the rest of the team geek out over new forensic tools. Brennan runs into author Tess Brown, and the latter appears to have a strained relationship with Edward Harkness, the chairman of the convention. Just as Brennan starts to talk, a […]

October 31, 2014

7:09 PM | Who needs an osteologist? (Installment 20)
This story seems to have slipped my notice over the last two weeks, but a team of radiologists in West Palm Beach, Florida, scanned an Egyptian mummy dating to 30-300 AD in advance of its going on display at the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium.According to the news reports, which aren't terribly great, 40 years ago the mummy was studied, and researchers thought the mummy was that of a girl between the ages of 4-9 who died of tuberculosis.  The diagnosis rested on missing […]
6:47 PM | Roman Bioarchaeology Carnival LXV
Welp, I seem to have missed last month's RBC.  Oops.  So here's an extra-large helping of Roman(ish) bioarchaeology news for the last couple of months!Italy and Greece"Witch girl". Via Discovery News.6 October. Skeleton of possible 'witch girl' found (Discovery News). An adolescent skeleton in Liguria was found buried face-down; date is unclear, but possibly as early as the 6th century AD.  I heavily critiqued this interpretation in Which girl? Witch girl!Britain23 October. […]
6:17 PM | October Pieces Of My Mind #2
What are the best arguments to keep your home wifi password protected? I think it’s a pain in the ass. My retired neighbour makes prophecies of doom involving child pornographers standing around with laptops outside my fence, distributing contraband files and leaving me to do the jail time. I tell my students that the two…
1:20 PM | Ancient Stone Circles in Mideast Baffle Archaeologists
Huge stone circles in the Middle East have been imaged from above, revealing details of structures that have been shrouded in mystery for decades.
Editor's Pick

October 30, 2014

6:34 PM | Week 27 Volunteering at the Royal College of Surgeons
This week has been a bit slow of me but every Thursday I have something to look forward to and volunteering always picks me up. I was also cheered up by seeing soldiers selling poppies for rememberence day and a man playing the bag pipeline Waterloo station. After a quick walk to the College I […]

October 29, 2014

1:05 PM | Halloween Horrors: Evidence of Torture in the Prehistoric Southwest US
With Halloween coming up right around the corner, there have been an increase in the attention paid to the spookier aspects of archaeology. We are increasingly able to find evidence of […]

Osterholtz, A. (2012). The social role of hobbling and torture: Violence in the prehistoric Southwest, International Journal of Paleopathology, 2 (2-3) 148-155. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpp.2012.09.011

12:33 PM | Cashel Man, A 4,000 Year Old Bog Body
I have just finished watching the BBC programme ‘4,000-year-Old Cold Case: the Body in the Bog‘. I have also been interested in the bog bodies ever since reading the poems by Seamus Heaney. I haven’t explored the research around the bodies personally but I will any news article or watch any programme on the subject.  […]
36 Results