Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Every bone tells a story

My name is Janet Fletcher, the Osteoarchaeologist in the Lifelong Learning Centre at the University of Leeds and I am working, with my colleague Debbie Hallam, on the unprovenanced human remains collection at Leeds Museum Discovery Centre. In early July I also had help from an ex student of mine Emily Marlow, who is now doing her PhD at the University of Manchester and who wanted access to skeletal material to provide data to test her theory about biometric sexing techniques.

I still need to analyse a few boxes but to date the skeletal material has been very interesting and despite lack of provenance there are some interesting stories to be told about the lives of the individuals studied. There is evidence of trauma, cultural modification, disease, lifestyle and activity-related pathologies. One individual in particular exhibits the marks of interpersonal violence and is proving to be a sad and moving case study.

All of the material studied has the potential for integration into community-based learning activities and the next step is to discuss the development of sessions to introduce the stories of the past populations of West Yorkshire to those living here today. I am looking forward to it.

Above: The facial reconstruction of Nesyamun, the Leeds Mummy, on display in Leeds City Museum.

Author: Janet Fletcher, Osteoarchaeologist, Sept 2011.

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