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

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