September 14, 2017

Using old data I

Filed under: Cemeteries, Egypt — acagle @ 7:19 pm

I was going to post a link to one of my favorite papers, one by RC Dunnell called Aspects of the Spatial Structure of the Mayo Site (15-JO-14), Johnson County, Kentucky but I’ve not been able to track down a PDF copy (I was sure I had one somewhere). Not sure why I lit upon that topic but I’ve wanted to link to it for a while now. It’s a really neat study using previously collected artifacts and it really makes a lot out of a little. I’ll try to get to it sometime (I’m searching my various backup drives now).

It was actually sort of the inspiration for this paper that I did (submitted it to a journal, rejected, and now part of our monograph: Human Burials at Kom el-Hisn. What I tried to do in that is integrate some of our burials — which are few, because they were incidental to the other work — with those from work done back in the late 1940s and 1950s. Someone else (referenced therein) had already tried to go through their burial data but it was limited as well, due to poor record keeping and pretty much everything else from that earlier work.

Can’t say I came up with any earth-shattering insights. . . .it ended up being far more descriptive than analytic, unfortunately — but I managed to tease out a few relevant observations. I still think, for example, that a bunch of burials are later Old Kingdom rather than FIP or MK. (I notice that document doesn’t have any figures either).

Actually I have quite a few more papers that I might upload (or find links to).

January 26, 2016

Bodies, bodies everywhere!

Filed under: Cemeteries, Public Health — acagle @ 4:29 pm

Blackburn archaeological survey: Bodies of 800 young children foundT

he bodies of about 800 children aged under six have been unearthed by archaeologists ahead of the construction of a road in Lancashire.
They were among 1,967 bodies exhumed at St Peter’s Burial Ground, which opened in 1821 in Blackburn.
The large number of children found is being put down to a lack of good sanitation and medicines leading to a high mortality rate.
Many of them would have died from infections, the archaeologists believe.

Actually, the kids ought to show abundant evidence of the sorts of chronic diseases that affect (and kill) children, such as malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies. Those may not be the proximate causes of death (usually infections) but they are contributing factors.

November 2, 2015

They left?

Filed under: Cemeteries — acagle @ 9:07 am

Why Iron Age Burial Practices Are Making a Comeback

According to the Telegraph, Iron Age burial practices are on trend. Interesting, you might think, so people are leaving their dead out in the open to decompose? No? Cremation is on the up? Well, possibly. Oh, well then perhaps they mean that more people are being buried crouched in stone cists? Wrong again!

Apparently, results from a survey of undertakers (conducted as part of a wider study into modern funerary practice) reveal that there is a growing trend in people asking to be buried with their most prized possessions.

Two things:
1) I would probably want to be buried with my old cats’ cremated remains. After all, what would happen to them afterwards? I figured either that or whichever one of us were the last one standing would take them out and distribute the ashes in some pleasant place before they go.
2) I’ve always kind of wanted to be buried with a bunch of bizarre, seemingly ritual stuff just to confuse people in the future. You know, like a bowling ball next to my head, a parrot’s wing across my breast, and three paris of glasses on my face.

October 17, 2015

It is rather odd

Filed under: Cemeteries — acagle @ 6:36 am

Medieval graves found near Exeter ‘mystify’ archaeologists

The discovery of 70 graves found by archaeologists on a site earmarked for housing has mystified experts.
The burials are thought to be from the 13th or 14th Century and were found near Exeter, Devon.
Archaeologist Richard Greatorex said: “These burials are very rare because they’re not in a graveyard, on consecrated ground and they’re individual graves.”

One assumes the dating is correct. Maybe they were convicts or some such. Outcasts of some sort? Foreigners?

August 13, 2015

Bodies, bodies everywhere!

Filed under: Bodies, Cemeteries, bodies everywhere! — acagle @ 7:10 pm

Archaeologists dig up thousands of skeletons under London’s Liverpool Street Station

Archaeologists in London believe they may have uncovered a mass grave of plague victims buried beneath one of the city’s busiest train stations.

The find at Liverpool Street Station is part of one of Britain’s most important archaeological digs, with a team of more than 60 scientists working double shifts since March to excavate around 3,000 skeletons.

The bodies were interred in a cemetery attached to the notorious Bedlam mental asylum, with the site being used for burials for at least 170 years.

At first I thought it was going to be all plague victims but apparently it’s just a big ol’ cemetery with some plague victims.

June 16, 2015

Bodies, bodies everywhere

Filed under: Bodies, Cemeteries, Historic, bodies everywhere! — acagle @ 7:04 pm

French archaeologists uncover ‘exceptional’ tomb of 350 year old corpse, believed to be noblewoman Louise de Quengo

The “exceptional” tomb of a noblewoman who lived during the 17th Century has been uncovered in France.

The remarkably preserved remains were unearthed by a team in the north-western city of Rennes, at the excavation site of the convent of the Jacobins, before the area is built over with a convention centre.

The 1.45 metre (five foot) corpse is believed to be that of Louise de Quengo, wife of the powerful noble Toussaint Perrien, who died in 1656 when she was in her 60s. Various local media reported that much of her hair, skin, internal organs and brain were still intact.

She also, apparently, had her husband’s heart in with her. No explanation as to why the preservation was so good though.

UPDATE: Guardian says it was a sealed lead coffin which could explain it.

UPDATE II: Video here. I’m a little surprised they didn’t really try to quarantine it while working to decrease the risk of contamination in case they want to do any genetic testing, etc.

June 2, 2015

“He glittered when he walked”

Filed under: Cemeteries — acagle @ 7:04 pm

Archaeologists dig into care of state’s historic cemeteries

Why are so many of us attracted to cemeteries full of strangers? It’s a question author Lola Haskins raises in her preface to “Fifteen Florida Cemeteries: Strange Tales Unearthed” (University Press of Florida).

“Maybe it’s the stories that draw us in, the ones we get to make up as if we were children again,” Haskins muses — the stories we might concoct, for example, about a particularly eloquent or enigmatic inscription on a headstone.

Several years ago, I stumbled across such an inscription in a Georgia cemetery: “He glittered when he walked.” Sounds sort of amusing, except that it’s a line from Edward Arlington Robinson’s great 1897 poem “Richard Cory,” about an elegant, glittery man who, “one calm summer night,” went home “and put a bullet through his head.”

I’ve nattered on about this before, but this is a really great way for amateurs to do archaeology. Historic cemeteries need cleaning and restoration — which requires some training — but just recording what is on the headstones is also worthwhile. Most cemeteries keep records of who is where and the date they were buried, but often not the data that’s on the stone.

May 15, 2015

This site Nerd-dom also demonstrates one of the great dangers of archaeology; not to life and limb, although that does sometimes take place. . . .”

Filed under: Cemeteries, Digital Archaeology — acagle @ 3:37 pm

No, I’m talking about wasting time being all techie and clever and running into all sorts of problems along the way. You may remember my big cemetery survey in which I collected all of the data digitally. Well, that mostly finished, while I eventually went through two devices, three separate databases, and three computers and collection tools.

Well, I wanted more data so I decided I ought to collect some more. I only went up to monuments from 1919 and it turned out I had a big spike in 1919-ish that I thought related to the influenza pandemic. But if I got another few years’ worth of data I thought the statistical case for it would be better. Hence, I thought I would go back out and get basic demographic data on 1920-1929.


Thus far I have been stymied. Filemaker doesn’t support Android for their portable product, and my old iPad can’t take a high enough version of iOS to run it. *harumph* I’ve been putzing around with other options, such as ODK but I haven’t had enough time to really get it all set up and working.

And it occurred to me that by this time I could have made up a little paper-based form, copied a bunch of them, collected the data, entered it, and been happily analyzing it by now.

But nnnOOOOOOOoooooo. I have to be all clever and do everything digitally.


March 11, 2015

Bodies, bodies, everywhere!

Filed under: Bodies, Cemeteries, Conservation/CRM, bodies everywhere! — acagle @ 6:53 pm

Literally: Crossrail archaeology: the story so far

It is one of the most extensive archaeological programmes ever undertaken in the UK.
Crossrail currently operates over 40 worksites and archaeological investigations which will be carried out at each site ahead of main construction works to build the stations.
A project spanning over 100 kilometres with more than 40 construction sites has the potential to uncover many finds.
To date Crossrail has found more than 10,000 artefacts spanning many years of London’s past across more than 40 construction sites. It is the UK’s largest archaeology project.

They’re expecting up to 3,000 burials to remove. Which will provide a tremendous amount of demographic and pathological data. And all of it’s rescue archaeology.

March 3, 2015

Cleanup in the burial aisle?

Filed under: Cemeteries — acagle @ 8:10 pm

This has been all over the place: 200 skeletons found in medieval mass grave beneath Paris supermarket

They had expected to find some bodies. The site, after all, had once been a medieval hospital and cemetery. But they never expected to find anything like this.

Underneath a supermarket in the middle of Paris, littered among scraps of medieval pottery, archaeologists have discovered what local media call the “city’s archaeological find of the year”: 200 skeletons, many of which are buried head to toe, six corpses deep. “We expected it to have a few bones to the extent that it had been a cemetery, but not to find mass graves,” the manager of the supermarket told Agence France-Presse. The supermarket allowed in researchers to examine during construction.

They don’t give anything on the demographics of the sample so we don’t know if it was a decent cross section of a living population or not. If it had a distribution of ages similar to a loving population you could say that it was some sort of Big Event that cause mass mortality; otherwise, it could be a relatively quick “death population” of the more or less usual sort. They seem to imply the former though. Still, the way they are laid out suggests that maybe it wasn’t maybe a plague where they might be tossing them into the grave to get rid of them ASAP in hopes of keeping the corpses from spreading disease.

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