Apologies for the lack of updates; please bear with me. I’ve had a busy past few weeks & the future doesn’t look any less busy! Preparation for moving down to start the Msc Human Osteology & Funerary Archaeology program at the University Sheffield have begun, but I’m still on the look out for a lab coat! I move to the city shortly, but I’m still enjoying the time I have left in my hometown. This year has flown by a bit too quickly!
The next Skeletal Series update will concern the human hip bones, and their form and function. They are particularly key in both age and sex diagnosis of the individual. I’ll also shortly start a brief write-up of the German Grampus placement & the activities we got up to, since I’ve finally just got round to finishing their report for the program online.
I did manage to read my way through Waldron’s (2009) ‘Palaeopathology’ manual whilst I was in Germany, and what a delight it was too! I’d highly recommend reading it, especially if you are going to be working with human bones from archaeological sites. I have a feeling that this book, and the Human Bone Manual, will not be far from my side in the next few months. ‘Palaeopathlogy’ offers ‘Operational Definitions’ which help to improve the diagnosis of disease in ancient human remains via clinical definitions and backgrounds. I would say this is a must have, especially since a lot of the palaeopathogical literature cannot be cross examined due to the differences in rational & criteria used.
A quick scan of BBC’s online news website reveals that a late stone age skull discovered from Iwo Eleru in Nigeria has some interesting ‘primative’ features associated with human evolution. The online article can be found here at PLoS online. The article deals with the chronology and morphology of the Iwo Eleru calvaria. This is a very interesting article as it deals with a skull that shows similar morphological features present in archaic homo sapiens humans around 100,000 years ago but its found in a context that is dated to around 15,000BP. It is also rare that human remains are found during this date in West Africa. The article states that this cranium fragment represents ‘evidence of deep population substructure in Africa and complex evolutionary processes for the origin of modern humans’, that the archaic homo sapiens didn’t just cut off after Anatomically Modern Humans (AMH) appeared. Frankly, I think this also highlights what is often forgotten in the prehistoric & palaeolithic archaeological record. It is not just migration out of Africa and the dispersal of AMH that is fascinating and interesting, but also to still keep looking and researching inside Africa to see the evolutionary and populational changes still concurrent with human expansion elsewhere.
I also noticed the other that over at John Hawks’s weblog he has announced the Malapa Soft Tissue project. This project aims to discover if soft tissues from an ancient hominid has been preserved from the Malapa site cave site, just outside Johannesburg in South Africa. Recently discussed in the National Geographic magazine, the hominids discovered at this site are believe do to be Australopithecus Sediba, a possible intermediate form between the Australopithecus & Homo genus. Much information remains to be gleamed from these exciting and relatively complete finds. Up to date information on the MST project can be found on the John Hawks link. Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of this project is that is it open access science; you are encouraged to take a part and offer your expertise! Keep an eye on it and see where it leads…
I’ll be back shortly.
Further news on A. Sediba…