Forensic anthropology Methodologies: Excavations of Mass Grave sites with Comingled Skeletonized Remains

This week I will explore how forensic anthropologists determine whether or not a human rights violation occurred by utilizing particular techniques developed by forensic practitioners as well as interdisciplinary methods used by archaeologists. Forensic archaeologists employ a variety of methods when excavating mass graves, paying particular attention to whether or not individuals were buried or reburied multiple times by examining the placement and position of the victims’ remains, the associated artifacts, and taphonomic changes to the bone. Collection of evidence and detailed description of mass graves are necessary to reconstruct the events that transpired and ultimately to prosecute the alleged perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Forensic teams investigating human rights violations enlist the help of a forensic archaeologist, who is trained in identifying how a gravesite was formed, filled, and concealed, along with taphonomic alterations to the gravesite and the humans remains.

There are several questions a forensic archaeologist must answer while excavating mass grave sites

How many bodies it takes to constitute a “mass” grave?

-Need only two or more bodies

-Actual examples in Croatia created after the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia: 3-750 bodies

-Yet, a grave containing one individual does not necessarily mean that a human rights violation did not occur

So what constitutes a “mass” grave? 

Main definitive factor: nature of the body deposition and manner of which bodies were handled that reflect disrespect. They are distinct from other mass burials in which bodies are carefully placed, indicating a degree of care or at least forethought

How do forensic teams describe gravesites? Is there a gravesite typology?

There is a general typology forensic archaeologists follow when identifying, describing, and excavating mass gravesites

Execution site: location in which multiple individuals are executed; possibly see skeletal materials, bullet cartridges, shredded clothing, human blood and tissue fragments visible on either the ground surface or obscured by grave put or a similar feature intended to inter the human remains and other relevant evidence of a crime

Temporary surface deposition sites: characterized by the presence of residual clothing, personal effects, blood, and bone fragments; the body or bodies were once at this site, and then moved to another location after execution, possibly in an attempt to better hide the crime. Skeletal remains may exhibit taphonomic changes (i.e. weathering, sun-bleaching, insect cases, carnivore damage).

Primary inhumation site: An intentionally constructed pit in which to dispose bodies; typically contains multiple individuals who have been executed and interred soon after death and who share a related cause and manner of death; note that the PIS may be located far from where the victims were killed; human remains disposed in a disorderly manner and associated with evidence of execution, such as bullets and shrapnel; there should be no taphonomic changes, as there should have been no disruption of the natural decomposition process (expect to see “feather-edging” when the peripheral bodies of the bod mass are less preserved than those in the core of the assemblage)

Secondary inhumation site: Remains are removed from the primary inhuman site and moved to a clandestinely created grave; typically, transporting the materials usually results in disarticulation of the skeletal resulting in a disarticulated and commingled remains in a secondary inhumation site

Robbed or looted inhumation sites: Once the remains have been removed from a primary inhumation gravesite, the gravesite is then defined as a “robbed or looted inhumation site.” Usually the perpetrators clandestinely remove the remains for the purpose of creating a secondary inhumation site known to a minimum number of informants. The RLIS will include: clothing, hair, ballistics, and other items small enough to be left behind

This type of grave in particular is important to international tribunals because it assists in linking and reconstructing the sequence of events experienced by the victims

How do forensic archaeologists handle skeletonized human remains?

An additional goal is to maximize collection of disarticulated and commingled skeletal remains in the best possible condition

There are two primary excavation methods: pedestaling and stratigraphic, or “basin” method. The pedestal method focuses on exposing the body or bodies; stratigraphic, or basin method in which the excavator maintains the integrity of the grave features (i.e. grave walls) and its contents

Tuller and Duric (2006) found that the stratigraphic method 1.) had a lower number of unassociated bones; 2.) better maintained the provenience and articulation of remains and 3.) higher recovery rate of smaller bones compared to the team using the pedestal method

Case Study: “Ethnic Cleansing” of Northwestern Bosnia

The anthropological protocol implemented during the investigation mass graves is illustrated from the excavations of mass graves from the “ethnic cleansing” of Northwestern Bosnia in 1992. Hundreds of individuals were disposed in an open cast mine in Northwest Bosnia after being removed by a mechanical excavator from a primary burial site. The perpetrators relocated the remains to a new site, an open cast mine in northwestern Bosnia, and were not particularly systemic or careful with the exhumation, resulting in unnecessary disarticulation of the remains (Baraybar and Gasior, 2006). In the second burial site, one of the walls in the pit was blown up with explosives, causing an avalanche of rubble and rocks that covered the slope, which damaged and caused mixture of the bodies (Baraybar and Gasior, 2006). When the Bosniak Commission on Missing Persons excavated the bodies in 2001, it was crucial for the forensic practitioners to recognize that the final burial site was, in fact, not the primary burial pit and that the remains were interred multiple times and were even subject to taphonomic changes not related to the actual crime (Baraybar and Gasior, 2006). Additionally, the stratigraphic, “basining” excavation method of the primary burial site revealed that the grave pit itself was man-made, suggesting that the disposal of the individuals was premeditated and the perpetrators attempted to hide their transgression (Baraybar and Gasior, 2006).

In sum, archaeological field methods combined with the goals of forensic anthropology specialty affords practitioners and individuals investigating crimes against humanity the opportunity to scientifically investigate mass gravesites. Reconstructing the events that transpired and determining whether or not a mass killing was premeditated together may provide strong evidentiary support for a crime against humanity.

See articles for more information: 

Baraybar, P., & Gasior, M. (2006). Forensic Anthropology and the Most Probable Cause of Death in Cases of Violations Against International Humanitarian Law: An Example from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Journal of Forensic Science , 51 (1), 103-108.

Jessee, E., & Skinner, M. (2005). A typology of mass grave and mass grave-related sites. Forensic Science International , 152, 55-59.

Schmitt, S. (2002). Mass graves and the collection of forensic evidence: genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. In W. Haglund, & M. Sorg (Eds.), Advances in Forensic Taphonomy: Method, Theory and Archaeological Perspectives (pp. 277-292). New York: CRC Press.

Skinner, M. (1987). Planning the archaeological recovery of evidence from recent mass graves. Forensic Science International , 34, 267-287.

Skinner, M., Alempijevic, D., & Djuric-Srejic, M. (2003). Guidelines for international forensic bio-archaeology monitors of mass grave exhumantions. Forensic Science International , 134, 81-92.

Tuller, H., & Duric, M. (2006). Keeping the pieces together: Comparions of mass grave excavation methodology. Forenic Science International , 156, 192-200.

the individuals was premeditated and the perpetrators attempted to hide their transgression (Baraybar and Gasior, 2006).

In sum, archaeological field methods combined with the goals of forensic anthropology specialty affords practitioners and individuals investigating crimes against humanity the opportunity to scientifically investigate mass gravesites. Reconstructing the events that transpired and determining whether or not a mass killing was premeditated together may provide strong evidentiary support for a crime against humanity.

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Anatomy and Behavioral Strategies of Human and Nonhuman Primate Parturition

In March of 2000, Sofia Pedro’s village in Mozambique was ravaged by floods. People were forced to higher grounds to avoid the floodwaters, and many people, including the heavily-pregnant Sofia Pedro, were climbed to shelter in the treetops. She was trapped in the tree for four days. On the third day, she gave birth to her daughter, Rositha.

Giving birth in the treetops is unusual for humans, but not for many primate species.

Stories like Sofia’s are particularly interesting because they pose the question: are humans unique in that they alone experience difficulties during birth? Do both human and nonhuman primates therefore adopt methods and strategies to minimize the risk and maximize survival of themselves and their offspring?

In other words, is there a gap in human and nonhuman primate parturition behavior?

To investigate the similarities and differences between human and nonhuman primate parturition strategies, one must examine 1.) the Anatomical characteristics to examine the physical difficulties humans and primates face when giving birth and 2.) Parturition strategies, in other words, how human and nonhuman primates manage birth and improve probability of survival of both the mother and infant.

Anatomical Characteristics 

The human and nonhuman birth canal divided into three transverse planes: the inlet, midplane, and outlet (fig. 1). Each plane is described as being either longest at either the anterior-posterior diameter or widest at the transverse diameter. Each plane may be aligned, meaning all three planes parallel to one another, or misaligned, the planes are perpendicular to one another, with the greatest diameter varying among the three planes

Figure 1. Pelvic inlet, midplane, and outlet

In the genus Pan birth canal, for example, the anterior-posterior diameter exceeds the transverse diameter. In Australopithecine (specifically A. aferensis) the pelvis inlet transverse diameter exceeds the anterior-posterior diameter, resulting in a platypelloid shape (i.e. a flat, oval shape). Among humans the three transverse are all misaligned; the inlet is widest transversely, and the outlet widest anterior-posteriorly; thus creating two perpendicular planes.

Figure 2. Comparison for the mechanism of birth in Pan, A.L. 288-1 (Australopithecus aferensis) and Homo (Tague and Lovejoy, 1986: 247)

The Australopithecine birth canal is an example of how useful it is to reconstruct and understand changes in birth and parturition among human and nonhuman primate ancestors.

Australopithecus serve as one of the earliest sources of fossil material for examining early human bipedalism, and for the purpose of this post, mechanisms of birth.  The cranial capacity of Australopithecus similar to that of modern chimpanzees. Pelvic and limb morphology indicate Australopithecines was bipedal, not but obligatory like our hominid ancestors. Australopithecines also had an increase in shoulder breadth co-occurs with bipedalism, helping with balance.

Australopithecine birth canal would have restricted fetal head rotations at all levels within the canal. Yet, the birth canal was adequate to allow passage of a neonate’s cranium only if the infant’s head entered with its occipital bone oriented transversely with ansynclitism, meaning the neonatal head tilted towards its left or right shoulder, and exited without rotating. The shoulders which followed probably would not have been able to pass through without changing orientation.

It is more difficult, if not impossible, to determine whether or not Australopithecines gave birth in solitude, among conspecifics, or sought attendants to assist with birth. Trevathan (1987) suggests that the presence of attendants at childbirth has been part of the genus heritage for at least one million to two million years, originating with encephalization in our linage. Hominid ancestors would have been able to give birth without assistance, but having that assistance and support would have made the difference between life and death for mothers and their infants. A slight reduction in mortality would lead to selection for the behavioral characteristic of seeking companionship during parturition, resulting in its widely universal distribution in the modern human species.

Anatomical Features of Human and Nonhuman Primate Birth

Sherwood Washburn referred to the human birth as the “obstetric dilemma,” resulting from the shrunken dimensions of the human birth canal mandated by the mechanical requirements of upright bipedal locomotion and the evolution of progressively larger human brains (Washburn, 1960). Among humans, the fetal head must be flexed as it passes underneath the subpubic arch/pubic symphysis, with the occiput against the pubic bones, the frontal bone passing along the concave anterior surface of the sacrum.  The infant’s head then emerges from the canal occiput anterior: meaning that the infant generally emerges from the birth canal facing the opposite direction from the mother.

Primate mechanism of parturition is slightly more difficult to investigate because observations and accounts of primate births in the wild are scarce. Primatologists who have observed primate births note the difficulties in differentiation between pregnant and non-pregnant females until the pregnant female is actually in labor. Also, some primates give birth nocturnally, thus lower the changes that they will be observed, and some even seclude themselves in the foliage of trees during parturition. Among greater apes, the spacious birth canal and large body size allow for the neonate to easily navigate the birth canal. Small-bodies primates and lesser apes (Ateles), proboscis monkeys (Nasalis), macaques (Macaca), and lesser apes or gibbions (Hylobates), have a smaller head-to-body proportions, thus potentially complicated the birthing process. In her PhD dissertation, Stoller (1995) examined radiographs of laboratory animals during parturition showed that squirrel monkey and baboon neonates entered the birth canal in various positions, but then rotate to exit face first, facing the maternal pubic bones with their heads in an extended position.

Human Primate Birthing Strategies 

Humans have adopted many strategies to combat the risks and difficulties in childbirth, one of which is seeking assistance from medical professionals or family members during the birth. Humans do have the ability to give birth without assistance, yet today many women giving birth prefer not to do it alone. Before the advent of modern obstetric care, pregnancy and childbirth were risky and dangerous, and the complex anatomical features involved in parturition predisposed humans to certain conditions, such as obstructed labor, which could result in a myriad of injuries to both the mother and infant (Roberts and Mancester, 2007; Arrowsmith et. al., 1996; Wall et. al., 2005). Thus, many women in developed societies view childbirth as an event to be managed with the presences of a trained professional using technological intervention (Liamputtong. 2007) to ensure that their pregnant bodies and fetuses are completely controlled, and therefore, safe (Liamputtong, 2007). To be sure there are benefits in having a trained medical professional present at the birth.

Obstructed births are a common complication humans face, one type in particular is shoulder dystocia, which occurs when the shoulders are unable to pass through the pelvis after delivery of the head when the neonate is too large and the pelvis too small. The typical medical intervention is a surgical incision to remove obstruction, which may be dangerous as it sometimes results in tearing or hemorrhaging, either of which might cause permanent damage or be fatal to the mother, infant, or both. Midwifes, on the other hand, adopt different strategies to combat shoulder dystocia: typically the maneuvers the parturent mother into different positions to widen the birth canal.

Birth positions in particular vary cross-culturally. Even though the semi-upright positions of kneeling and sitting are the best positions for parturition, the supine position is the most common in developed countries where birth typically occurs in a hospital. It is possible that many women do not have the stamina to remain in kneeling or sitting position for the length of time usually required to deliver a child. The supine position allows the medical professional to have optimal access to the birth canal as well. Interestingly, Friedman (1978) found that in general, the upright position is optimal for increasing intra-abdominal pressure and the diameter of the pelvis. Women who were upright in a seated or semi-reclined position during labor had a shorter labor length compared to women in a supine position (Friedman 1978).

Many women assign certain meanings to the birthing process; they feel a sense of achievement and pride in their ability to cope with intense pain. Mayan women living in Guatemala stated that they accept pain as an obligation of a woman’s life, and consider it a point of pride to confront the birth with stoic dignity and courage. In fact, the indigenous word for birth (patan) literally translates into “burden.”

Expressing and vocalizing any pain was, to some women, considered shameful because they believe such actions like screaming diverted energy needed to give birth. This is particularly true for Chinese women, who are also expected to use soft voices and demonstrate quiet demeanor during parturition.

Parturition Behaviors Among Nonhuman Primates 

Anatomically, it appears that the mechanism of parturition varies between primate species, specifically between large bodied and small-bodied apes. When scholars opine that primates have little to no problems during parturition, they do not consider the extrinsic challenges primates encounter when giving birth in their natural habitat. Observations of baboons reveals that females give birth among conspecific group members. Squirrel monkeys give birth within their group as well as a form of cooperation against predators, anti-predator vigilance, and defense of neonates. Among Chimpanzees, Goodall (1971) noted that pregnant females become more solitary as parturition approaches. Among some primates, females seek seclusion and take advantage of the tree foliage that provides a natural protection from terrestrial predators (Rosenberg and Trevathan 2002). In a study published in Primates in July 2014, primatologists observed a bonobo birth for the first time, and found that the parturent female was accompanied by two other females who, according the researchers, were “offering companionship and support.” After the birth, the mother as well as the so-called birth attendants all consumed the placenta.

Primate births may be diurnal verses nocturnal; in fact, primates give birth at times of day that offer the lowest predation risk. Among squirrel monkeys labor may being at dawn, and if the infant has not been birthed by daytime, labor will spontaneously stop and start again during the appropriate time, most likely during dusk.

Primates also maneuver into positions to widen pelvis, particularly among smaller-bodied primates with a very close caphalopelvic fit (e.g. macaca mullata). Primates also express pain when giving birth. Patas, Rhesus macaques, and bonobos have been observed having pained looks on faces and express said pain with vocalizations. Breeched births might occur among primates with a close cephalopelvic dimension, such as macaca mullata, rhesus macaques, spider monkeys.

So How Wide is the Parturition Gap?

The mechanism of birth appears to be more complex for humans, small-bodied primates, and lesser apes than compared to larger-bodied, greater apes. Humans opt to seek assistance during birth and while primates sometimes opt to give birth among group members, it is unclear whether or not primates actively seek birth attendants. Primates maneuver in positions optimal for birth while humans in medicalized cultures give birth in a less optimal, supine position; maybe humans should consider a primate model for birthing positions! Both human and nonhuman primates experience pain when giving birth, yet humans are unique in that they assign cultural meaning to their pain.

In sum, both face similar challenges when giving birth, yet the adaptive methods to overcome those challenges varies between species worldwide. It seems to be that the parturition gap between human and nonhuman primates is not a wide gap after all.

             

Sources:

Abitbol, M. (1996). Birth and Human Evlution; Anatomical and Obstertical Mechanics in Primates. Westpoint: Bergin & Garvey.

Abitbol, M. (1987). Obstetrics and psoture in pelvic anatomy. Journal of Human Evolution, 16, 243-256.

Arrowsmith, S., Hamlin, E., and Wall, L. (1996). “Obstructed labor injury complex”: obsteteric fistual formation and the mulitfaceted morbidity of maternal birth trauma in the developing world. Ostetrical and Gynecological Survey, 51, 568-574.

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Berge, C., and Ponge, J. (1983). Les caracteristiques de bassin des australopitheques (A. robustus, A. africanus, A. afarensis) sont elles licees a une bipedie de type humain?

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Berge, C., and R. Orban-Segebarth, P. S. (1984). Obstetrical Interpretation of the Australopithecine Pelvic Cavity. Journal of Human Evolution, 7, 573-587.

Boinski, S. (1987). Birth synchrony in squirrel monkeys (Saimiri oetstedi). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 21, 393-400.

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Clark, L., Khalaf, I., Semenic, S., Kartchner, R., and K.Vehvilainen-Julkunen. (2003). The Pain of Childbirth: Perceptions of Cultually Diverse Women. Pain Management Nursing, 4(4), 145-154.

DeSilva, J., and Lesnik, J. (2008). Brain size at birth throughout human evolution: A new method for estimating neonatal brain size in hominins. Journal of Human Evolution, 55, 1064-1074.

Dunbar, R.I.M. and Dunbar, P. (1974). Behavior related to birth in wild gelada baboons (Theropithecus gelada). Behavior, 185-191.

Friedman, E. (1978). Labor: Clinical Evaluation and Management. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

Goodall, J. (1971). In the Shadow of Man. New York: Dell.

Gorzitze, A. (1996). Birth-related Behaviors in Wild Proboscis. Primates , 37 (1), 75-78.

Hausler, M., and Schmid, P. (1995). Comparisons of the pelves of Sts 14 and Al 288-1: implications for birth and sexual dimorphism in australopithecines. Journal of Human Evolution, 29, 363-383.

Hopf, S. (1967). Notes on pregnancy, delivery and infant survival in captive squirrel monkeys. Primates, 8, 323-332.

Kadam, K., and Swayamprabha, M. (1980). Parturition in the slender loris (Loris tardigradus lydekkerianus). Primates, 21, 567-571.

Kibii, J., Churchill, S., Schmid, P., Carlson, K., Reed, N., de Ruiter, D., et al. (2011). A Partial Pelvis of Australopithecus sediba. Science, 333, 1407-1411.

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This week in anthropology

Map of Native American tribes you have never seen before 

Mayan cities rediscovered in the Yucatan 

Subway in the sky, new cable car system to link La Paz with El Alto on the plateau 

Peruvian artisans win cash award for weaving in textile contest 

Lessons from the last time civilization collapsed 

“Consider this, if you would: a network of far-flung, powerful, high-tech civilizations closely tied by trade   and diplomatic embassies; an accelerating threat of climate change and its pressure on food production; a rising wave of displaced populations ready to sweep across and overwhelm developed nations. Sound familiar?”

Archaeologists uncover first mass grave from 14th century bubonic plague outbreak, Barcelona

 

What makes humans special? A graphical tour of  our evolutionary advantages starts with anatomy 

The problem when sexism sounds friendly (in academia) 

Are Neanderthals human? Scientist discuss whether or not Neanderthals belong with homo sapiens 

Pre-Columbian mycobacterial genomes reveal seals as a source of New World human tuberculosis

Irish fair skin can be traced back to the Middle East and India 

European man’s remains found in ancient Chinese tomb

Homo floresiensis: scientists clash over claims ‘hobbit man’ was modern human with Down’s syndrome

Meet The Generation Of Incredible Native American Women Fighting To Preserve Their Culture

World’s first 3D printed vertebra implanted in 12-year-old boy

Four Cases of Life-Threatening Plague Found in Colorado

 

 

 

 

 

Science and Sexism in the South

My hiatus from the inter-webs can be contributed to several things; the main reason being my temporary, part-time job. As I have mentioned, I am starting a PhD program at Tulane in the fall. Though I am receiving a generous stipend package, moving and paying a rent deposit cost money. So, alas, I had to take a part-time job to fill in the months before I head off into the second phase of my life: graduate-school-induced-melt-down.

I have several qualms with this job. Well, not several, a better description would be “thousands.” I should not explicitly state where I work, so I’ll just say that we sell books. The topic of today’s post isn’t necessarily about books, the store where I work, or even the customers (though, let’s be candid, I could write volumes on each aforementioned subject), it is about science and sexism in the South. Broad, huh? I try to avoid going on too many tirades and being completely biased to a place that enjoys its way of life without being told what to do…but I can’t let this rest. It’s exhausting.

I have written about the misconceptions, mistrust, and general issues the South has with the sciences and sexism. Once I wrote about it during the local museum’s Darwin Day celebration back in 2013. I’ve posted on Facebook and Twitter about failing science standards and the general dislike some people have towards science. I wrote a post about the sexist comments I received when I told people I was starting my Phd in the fall.  I attribute it to age: older people are products of their time and are set in their ways. Understandable. Not ideal, but I get it: you grew up in a small community devoted to your religion and enrolled in a school system that taught you…well…it taught you what it taught you. Boys had to be strong, silent, and play football. Girls had to be pretty and think about marrying their high school sweethearts. You are a product of your time and place.

I feel less sympathetic towards my peers. Other men and women my age, who have innumerable resources that could answer all their science questions, and proudly state “I don’t believe in evolution.” You don’t “believing” or “not believing;” you accept it, or don’t.  I encounter these people at work. We are allowed to check out books from the store, and I decided to read “The Sixth Extinction” by Elizabeth Kolbert. I liked the book generally, sometimes I wish it was less a narrative about her trudging out to the field to hunt for fossil and more fact- and research-based treatise, but I understand that she wanted to give the reader a picture of what natural scientists actually do. One chapter is about how climate change is impacting coral reef systems by increasing the acidity in the ocean. When one of my co-workers asked me how I liked my book, I reiterated what the author wrote about the endangered coral reefs. His response, “I don’t think global warming is an issue. I don’t think people are the ones who have altered it. What would recycling even do?” I thought he was kidding at first, but alas, he was not.

Our store also participated in a book drive for a local elementary school. I was super pumped for this philanthropic endeavor, especially since we could pick the books to display for customers to donate. The day of, when I arrivedI saw that they shelves were covered with kids fiction, familiar and unfamiliar titles. What didn’t I see? Any science, history, or educational books. So I went to the kids education section and grabbed books on rain forests, mammals, snakes, US history, Ancient Egypt, algebra, mummies, anything and everything educational. As I was setting up the books, one of my co-workers exclaimed; “great idea Rachel! There are too many girly books up here, I’d glad you grabbed some books boys would like.” I wasn’t aware that science and history had a gender.  I wasn’t aware that it was “girly” to like fiction and “boyish” to like math. I was shocked by her comment, and said, “These aren’t subjects for boys, girls can be scientists and historians too.” And my co-worker didn’t even understand that what she said was sexist.

These men and women, additionally, are given the same opportunities, but I still see many females wearing teeshirts saying, “I’m too pretty to do math.” One co-worker outright stated to me, “I don’t understand why we waste space with a Women Studies or African-American Studies sections.”  I can’t even get into that comment right now. (Actually I can, if she could have articulated why she didn’t think those groups deserved sections, then I would have been willing to listen. But she didn’t. She just thought they were given special treatment. I’ll remember that when I am honored with the special treatment of begin cat called.) I digress.

So the store has special displays for Mother’s and Father’s day. For Mother’s Day, the store had tables with books on gardening, cooking, style, with a few romance novels thrown in. For Father’s Day, tables were filled with titles about hiking, home-brewing, and raunchy comedians. I mentioned it to my coworkers, and no one seemed to think that this blatant gender divide was shocking. Personally, I liked the Father’s Day books more! What if moms wanted to make beer at home and dads wanted to learn more about gardening? Why can’t men be stylish and women learn more about the species of trout in Tennessee?

So there you have it. 31 Days until I move and begin my new life, but just for good measure, this town is making sure that I get one taste of narrow-mindedness before I leave. Fantastic.  I wonder how everyone will react when I tell them I’m leaving to start my PhD in a social science. Probably call me a boy and say my career path is a lie.

This week in anthropology, archaeology, bioarchaeology, and bioanthropology

Rare crusade era seal found in Jerusalem 

Chile: Students find 7,000 year old Chinchurro mummy 

Enhanced images reveals paintings at Angkor Wat 

Long lost mummy of Pharaoh AmenotephII’s foster brother found in monastery near Pisa, Italy 

Grave find may be Western Europe’s earliest human tooth 

Court rules on final resting place for Richard III’s, London

First contact with European’s through indigenous eyes

Hidden Wari tomb reveals a treasure trove of undisturbed remains, Peru 

Villager dips fishing net in river and caught Bronze Age/4,000 year old pagan god, Turkey 

Climate change doomed the ancients 

What can you do with a humanities Ph.D.? 

Is species extinction happening 1000 times faster because of humans? 

Access to environmental education must be part of a positive future for Virgunga, its communities and wildlife 

3D model of Richard III’s spine reveals spiral scoliosis 

8 extreme body modifications from around the world 

East Lothian skeleton may be 10th century Irish Viking king 

Man’s hormonal condition was “eating” his finger bones 

Iran’s old “dwarf city” captivates visitors 

Whatever happened to the great apes of Europe? Went extinct around 7 million years ago 

This week in anthropology, bioarchaeology, and archaeology

Love, sex, and marriage in ancient Mesopotamia 

How to talk to an archaeologist 

The 3 letters of recommendation you must have, via The Professor is In 

Scientists plan DNA test of Inca Ice Princess Juanita, Peru 

Archaeologists discover Pre Columbia mural in Tambo archaeological complex, Pisco providence, Ica, Peru 

National Geographic: Sican culture one of history’s greatest civilizations 

Scanners at British Museum looks inside the heads of ancient mummies 

In an experimental process, Italian scientists have strengthened degraded skeletal fragments said to be relics of St. Clement from the late Middle Ages by growing calcium carbonate crystals on them

Skeleton executed by sword blows to the head poses questions about Norman Conquest 

Archaeologists examine untouched tomb of wealthy Wari woman, Peru 

andean-noble-preserved-bone-615

Investigated red-colored bones  and burial practices in Mesoamerica 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week in anthropology, bio anthropology, primatology, and bioarchaeology

The scourge of scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) and the demise of Europe’s first settlement in the Western Hemisphere

Mummy of Egypt’s “lost queen” Queen Hatshepsut found, osteological shows died of bone cancer around age 50 

Sharon DeWitte of University of South Carolina, using dental and skeletal evidence to look at populations before, during, and after Black Death swept Europe 

Mexican archaeologist excavate 1600 year old shaft tomb in State of Zacatecas, material evidence suggests the 28 individuals armed for battle in death

Neanderthal moms had it tougher than modern moms, Neanderthal and homo sapien infants had same cranial size at birth, and Neanderthal children grew at faster rates 

Getting to the root of enamel evolution: Connecting genes to hominin teeth shows evidence of natural selection 

Is ignorance bliss? The frustrations of being scientifically literate 

Byran college loosing 25% of faculty after “Adam and Eve” controversy 

Genes made us do it: the new pseudoscience of racial differences see also a great follow up Things to know when talking about race and genetics

Primates and patience: the evolutionary roots of self-control 

Chronicle of higher ed: struggling to find a project that excites you? follow these steps 

Function of human appendix, known use since lost?

Power and glory of the Maya queens, stele at Naachtun depicts fierce-looking, possible warrior, queen

Girl’s 12,000 year old skeleton found in underwater cave may shed light on Native American origins 

Should human remains be put on display? Archaeology and grave robbing 

Five ways twitter can be useful in academic contexts 

In Victorian ear, doctors prescribed beards to keep men healthy 

Restorers to bone up on skills for Kutná Hora ossuary makeover, Prague 

Bone to be wild, fleshing out a career devoted to skeletons and people, tribute to paleopathologist Dr. George Armelagos

Qatari people carry genetic trace of early migrants out of Africa  

Testing on Egyptian coffin’s wood reveals climate change may have caused empire’s fall 

Mountain Gorilla, Cross River Gorilla, and Sumatran Orangutan listed as some of the world’s most endangered animals 

Ancient faeces reveals origins of Puerto Rican natives 

Graphic of Wari woman’s royal tomb reveals burial fit for a queen, Peru 

Federal government jeopardizes Navajo’s family ties to home lands

Is your baby American enough Complicated relationship between genetics and nationality