December 31, 2015

Roman Bioarchaeology Carnival LXXVIII

Some pretty interesting stuff this month in Roman bioarchaeology:

  • 4 December - Intact, Packed Etruscan Tomb Found (Discovery News). A 4th century BC tomb was found in Perugia, and it has two sarcophagi (one from a man named Lars) and a bunch of other stuff.  Finding an unlooted Etruscan tomb is always nice. There are skeletal remains, so these will add significant info to a fairly small sample of Etruscan skeletons that exists currently.
Lid of newly discovered Etruscan sarcophagus. (Credit: Discovery News)
The Empire
Roman-era skeleton found in Lincoln. Is it just me, or do those femora
look weird?  Is this actually one burial on top of another one? Those
femora are face-down, no? (Credit: Licolnshire Echo)
  • 21 December - Archaeologists Study Scythian Nomad Graves (Past Horizons). The Scythians were nomadic peoples on the periphery of the Roman Empire, sometimes interacting with them, and sometimes not. Archaeologists found and excavated three mound tombs this year in the Russian north Altai.
  • 28 December - 500 Tombs Dating Back 2,000 Years Found in Umm al Quwain (The National). A ton of stone cist-type graves were found in the UAE dating to 100 AD, along with, the report notes, currencies from Alexander the Great, pottery and coins from Italy, and other objects from Persia and India.  Seems this site was quite the well-connected metropolis.  It'll be exciting to learn more about it and how it was related to the rest of the Old World at the time of the Roman Empire.
One of the skeletons from the Umm
al Quwain tombs. (Credit: The National)
Other Roman-Era Skeleton News
  • 23 January - The Real Face of Jesus (Popular Mechanics).  I seem to have missed this one earlier this year, but it was of course recirculating for Christmas. There are many things that one can complain about with this reconstruction, but it's always nice to see Jesus not looking like a long-haired European dude.
Relics of Saint Nicholas that remain in Myra, Turkey. (Credit: Forbes)

Thanks, everyone, for reading the Roman Bioarchaeology Carnival this year!  I'll be back in a month with more news that I've collected.

As always, you can get news as it breaks by following me on Facebook at my Powered by Osteons page, where there are over 5,000 people reading, sharing, and commenting on osteological news from around the world.

December 30, 2015

This Month at Forbes - Crucifixion, Bones of Santa, Foot Prosthesis, Ice Mummy, Stonehenge, and an Ancient 3D Ham

In December, these are the things I wrote about on my Forbes blog:

  • 11 December - Gift This, Not That: Bone Clones vs. Skulls Unlimited.  Sometimes, Forbes has contributors write a series of posts on a theme, and this month was "gift this, not that." The series was aimed more at the tech sector, which has a lot of contributors, but I wrote one on why you should buy replica bones and leave the real ones to universities and museums.
  • 14 December - Archaeologists Discover Elite 6th Century AD Cavalryman with Unique Foot Prosthesis. This is a very cool article on a skeleton with a foot prosthesis. From the muscle markers and injuries, the researchers think he may have been in the cavalry. I was a bit surprised -- but glad -- by how many hits this one got. It does help that the researchers gave me permission to run several high-quality photos.
  • 22 December - 10 Secrets Ancient Human Bones Spilled in 2015. Everyone loves year-end listicle wrap-ups, right?  Of course, the 10 secrets in this post are all links to other posts that I wrote for Forbes this year.  Well, since May.  So it's really a list of a bunch of stories I enjoyed writing about in the last 8 months.
If you're still reading this, and especially if you click through to my Forbes stories (in spite of the crazy amounts of ads, which I can't change, sorry), I just want to say thanks!  I really appreciate return readers, and hope that you continue to follow Powered by Osteons and my Forbes writing in the new year.

December 29, 2015

Bones - Season 11, Episode 10 (Review)

Also late in posting this to PbO, but here's my review at Forbes of:

'Bones' Season 11, Episode 10 Review: The Doom In The Boom

Bones - Season 11, Episode 9 (Review)

A bit late in posting these, but here's my review of:

'Bones' Season 11, Episode 9 Review: The Cowboy In The Contest

December 3, 2015

Who needs an osteologist? (Installment 34)

A high school in Manchester, England, recently discovered that one of their teaching skeletons was made of real bone.  Apparently it's been used for decades in an art class, but everyone thought it was plastic. (Not sure why...)

They decided to rebury the body (again, not sure why...) after a forensic professional told them the person was of Indian ancestry and was a man who died around age 25-30.

Notice anything odd about this skeleton, though?  Hint: those are some reeeeeeeally long arms.  Not even sure how that mistake can be made.

While it's kind of sad that this poor guy got buried like this... it's sure to screw with some future archaeologists. ;-)

[h/t to Lesley Gregoricka for pointing this out]

Previous Installments of Who needs an osteologist?

Roman Bioarchaeology Carnival LXXVII

A couple big stories for the month of November, but not a lot of news on the Roman bioarch front.

Fresco from newly discovered
tomb at Paestum. (via ANSA)


  • 23 November - DNA study finds London was ethnically diverse from start (BBC). This is the big news of the month.  MOL researchers did aDNA analysis on four individuals from Roman Britain.  One individual -- whose skeletal remains appear to be female, but whose chromosomes are XY (male) -- in particular is making headlines as "transgender" and such.  I plan to outline my misgivings with... not so much the analysis or even the interpretation, but the way the information was presented to the public... in a Forbes post, but I'm still gathering info to ensure I do a credible job representing the full spectrum of possible interpretations. A bit more info, and a link to the DNA study results, is available on the MOL blog.
The Harper Road "woman." (via MOL)

  • 13 November - Neutron beam aimed at 'un-burning' bone (BBC).  While not specifically related to Roman bioarch, this new method -- if it works! -- has the potential to change the field immensely, as we'll be able to get additional useful information out of cremations, which of course were the fashion for a lot of Greco-Roman history.

Mini Bioarch Gift Guide

  • Looking for something anthropological to gift someone?  Try this Hominin 2016 Calendar, whose proceeds support UWF grad students' travel to research conferences.

December 1, 2015

November 24, 2015

2016 Hominin Calendar Fundraiser for UWF Anthro Grad Students

Our Graduate Anthropology Association here at UWF came up with an awesome idea for a fall fundraiser: a "hot hominins" calendar.  Led mostly by Jane Holmstrom and Tarra Wixom, the calendar was created using open-access images of reconstructed hominins... plus clever and funny sayings.  It's a spin on a traditional "pin-up" calendar for those of us who geek out on anthropology.

All proceeds from calendar sales go to the GAA, which disburses the funds to graduate students who are attending professional conferences to present work and network in the field.

If you're in need of a 2016 calendar and want to help out our students, please click through to check it out.  You can even preview each calendar page so you can see if your favorite species is there. Some sample images are below.

November 23, 2015


I have nothing more to add but a photo, really.  I love boozy Italian coffee desserts and portmanteaux.

My grad students get skeletiramisù tomorro, for the last day of this semester's bio anth grad seminar..

November 19, 2015

Bones - Season 11, Episode 8 (Review)

And here's this week's Bones review:

'Bones' Season 11, Episode 8 Review: 

High Treason In The Holiday Season

Three-week hiatus for Bones, then they're back for a two-hour Xmas special, then off until the spring it seems.

Bones - Season 11, Episode 7 (Review)

November 6, 2015

Bones - Season 11, Episode 6 (Review)

In light of the insane traffic that my blog post about the Egyptian pyramids got in the last 24 hours, I almost forgot to post this review of last night's Bones, from over at Forbes:

November 4, 2015

This month at Forbes - Bones reviews, Roman-inspired bone cookies, DNA mystery-solving, and a MacArthur winner

Here's what I wrote during the month of October over on my Forbes blog in case you missed it:

News and Culture

Bones Reviews

Bones reviews are now over at Forbes, thanks to the support of my editor.  The first couple got great traffic, particularly when the show's creator, showrunner, actors, and even Kathy Reichs herself tweeted my review of the première.  But not as many people are reading the rest.  We'll see if it picks up over the course of the season.

Roman Bioarchaeology Carnival LXXVI

Roman skeleton news from the spoooookiest month of the year!

Newly discovered Etruscan sarcophagus (photo via Tutto Oggi)

Elsewhere in the Empire
  • 12 October. Ancient Treasures Discovered in Cyprus Tomb Complex (LiveScience). This 4th century BC tomb has several chambers and a whole bunch of cool stuff, but alas no word on any potential bones.
    Contents of one of the pithos tombs from Turkey
    (Photo via Daily Sabah)

Roman Culture

October 30, 2015

Who needs an osteologist? (Installment 33)

My 6-year-old brought home a Scholastic News insert today on "spooky skeletons."  Which, of course, I'm all for.  But this made me laugh:

Admirably, they attempted to get the skeleton into the same position as the kid.  But of course that's not a kid's skeleton.  There are no epiphyses; all the bones are fused completely.  Also, if you look closely enough, there are way more than five fingers on the left hand. ;-)


Previous Installments of Who needs an osteologist?

October 29, 2015

Bones - Season 11, Episode 5 Review

Last week was a guest starring role by Betty White, and this week is a... Sleepy Hollow cross-over?  I did not watch the Sleepy Hollow episode, although it seems to have had Brennan in it.  If I get around to it, I may post a bonus review. Without further ado, here's this week's review:

October 24, 2015

Bones - Season 11, Episode 4 (Review)

Here's your link to this week's review of Bones (the episode that guest-stars Betty White), as posted on my Forbes blog:

'Bones' Season 11, Episode 4 Review: The Carpals In The Coywolves

Fun fact: this is at least the second time Betty White has played an anthropologist on TV.  In 2010, she was on Community as an anthro professor.

Next week is apparently the Bones-Sleepy Hollow cross-over.  Whatever that means. (I've never watched the latter.)

October 16, 2015

Bones - Season 11, Episode 3 (Review)

Here's the link to this week's Bones review over at my Forbes blog:

'Bones' Season 11, Episode 3 Review: The Donor In The Drink

October 14, 2015

Who needs an osteologist? (Installment 32)

Over on Twitter, archaeologist @nice_reminder posted this:

Ankle bones (and, I believe, a patella) stuck in the wrist for some reason.   She follows that up with:

I like the hashtag!  #WhoNeedsAnOsteologist is a bit long.

At any rate, I'd never heard of this show, but From Darkness seems to be a new British crime drama, airing on the BBC.  Might have to see if I can get it over here, if the bone aspect continues to be hilarious.

Here's a saved, larger version of the screencap she posted:

Previous Installments of Who needs an osteologist?

October 8, 2015

Bones - Season 11, Episode 2 (Review)

Here's the link to this week's Bones review over at my Forbes blog:

October 5, 2015

Who needs an osteologist? (Installment 31)

As Zachary Cofran pointed out when I shared this Nature news piece on archaeologists' return to Shanidar, the Iraqi National Museum needs an osteologist:

Credit: Hadi Mizban/AP/Press Association Images
The skeleton of a Neandertal found at Shanidar Cave,
displayed at the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad.
The scapulae are flipped.  The right clavicle is on the right, but it looks like the sternal end is lateral. The left ulna is upside down. The thoracic vertebrae appear to be flipped upside down too. But seriously, what in the world are metatarsals doing in the hand?!?!?


Did I miss anything else?  I'm typing this up fast before heading in to teach Human Osteology class...

Previous Installments of Who needs an osteologist?

October 1, 2015

Bones - Season 11, Episode 1 (Review)

Here I am, back for another season (even though I seem to swear off writing more of these each June).  But actually, the reviews are not back here.  I've moved them to my Forbes blog, with the hope of getting more traffic (and therefore more $$ incentive to spend time writing them when I could be, oh, I dunno, working on a book manuscript instead). The splash screen may be annoying, but please click through if you're interested in what I thought of the season première!

(And seriously, the guy who writes Game of Thrones reviews at Forbes has like hundreds of thousands of hits on each of his.  Man, that would be nice.  Tell your friends about mine, pretty please?)

If you want to read past reviews, this link should get you to them in reverse chronological order.

September 30, 2015

This Month at Forbes - Bioarchaeology, forensics, palaeoanthropology, tattoos, and more!

I've been derelict in posting a link round-up of my Forbes stuff here at PbO.  So here is the month of September.
  • September 24 - The hunt for Mona Lisa's bones is a publicity stunt, not science.  *le sigh* I've written here at PbO about Mona Lisa's bones every.single.year and it's gotten tiresome.  This post hasn't gotten very many hits, but it's gotten some quality engagement from people who also agree that this is more show than science.

Coming up in October... Bones is back tomorrow, and I'll actually be covering it at Forbes (but will put links here too). I'm a little nervous to bring the reviews there, and you'll see a bit of a format change, but some of the snark will stay.

Not sure how much else I'll be able to do, since I have a lot of research and writing projects coming up.  Then again, I say that every month...

Roman Bioarchaeology Carnival LXXV

Links this month are few but really interesting...

Lead sarcophagus from Lucca, Imperial-era. (via
Roman-style sarcophagus from Israel (via Discovery News)
  • 16 September - 16 pyramids discovered in ancient cemetery (LiveScience). The Kingdom of Kush was just south of Egypt and known to the classical Greeks and Romans (although it seems the Kushites governed themselves). These new tombs are from around the 1st century AD.
Roman Bio/archaeology in the 21st century
  • 24 September - FSU archaeology brings ancient artifacts to life (FSU News). A bunch of 3D printed Etruscan ceramics from Cetamura del Chianti are on display at FSU for the next 6 weeks or so.  Might need to make a pilgrimage down to Tallahassee for this.

Who needs an osteologist? (Installment 30)

We here at "Who needs an osteologist?" love Halloween because it brings an abundance of cheap skeletons -- both inexpensive and shoddily made, that is.  We are also not speciesist (it's a legit word; I looked it up!), so in today's installment we give you... spider skeletons.

And here's a similar offering from Party City:

Skeleton... exoskeleton... same difference, amiright?

(h/t Patrick Reynolds)

Previous Installments of Who needs an osteologist?

September 10, 2015

Homo naledi 3D scans available on MorphoSource

Via Steve Churchill comes the news that 3D models of major specimens of the newly-named Homo naledi are available on MorphoSource.

I picked the first metacarpal, U.W. 101-1321, because as I read through the Berger et al. paper on the anatomy and morphology of H. naledi, the metacarpals really struck me -- they're rather unique among hominins but very similar across the members of this species.

I downloaded the model as an .STL file, ran it through MakerWare to generate an .x3g file, and then printed it using my trusty old MakerBot.  It took 20 minutes, tops.

Then I gave the model to a grad student who was heading in to teach the undergraduate lab in biological anthropology.  Bam! Species-announcement-to-teaching-cast in under 12 hours.

This is a really fantastic resource, and even if you don't have a 3D printer, you should check out the great models and play around with them.

Awww, I love my little H. naledi thumb bone! So tiny, yet so muscular!

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha