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‘You Are What You Ate’ Bioarchaeology Outreach At The University of Bradford

3 Jun

Today I attended the free osteology workshop ‘You Are What You Ate’ at the University of Bradford.  The short course, and the project itself, is ran by the Universities of Leeds & Bradford, and is supported by both the Wellcome Trust and Wakefield Council.

Project Logo And Some Carious Teeth!

The aim of the short course is to introduce the public to what archaeologists use human remains for. The education outreach has a set of stated aims which are to:

* Engage the lay public in human osteology;

* Show the effects of diet on teeth and jaws;

* Compare patterns of medieval oral health with modern oral health, and to see what lessons can be learned;

* Raise awareness of the ethical treatment of working with human remains.

Medieval Tooth Wear (UCL Website)

Today’s session (the 2nd of 3) focused on teeth, and also on the bones that anchor the teeth, the mandible and maxilla.  The day consisted of a lecture on the importance of healthy teeth, alongside a study of the various diseases and processes that can affect tooth development during their formation and gained from diet & use of teeth.  We learnt about how teeth are formed, their function, what happens when teeth fall out; alongside the various diseases that can affect teeth including caries, dental abscesses, calculusenamel hypoplasia, plaque, periodontal disease, & malformation.  The second part of the day consisted of getting to grips with actual British Medieval human remains, and noting and observing the diseases and wear & tear present on each sample.  The format worked very well as we were allowed to wander around freely, talking to other volunteers and receiving talks from the professionals (Dr Alan Ogden & Dr Jo Buckberry) alongside some PhD students and masters students.

There was a range of volunteers who had decided to take part in this session from all walks of life.  After talking to several of the other volunteers I understood the importance of work such as this, where work and research was brought to public attention.  It was a joy to hear how much the participants had enjoyed the day, how much they had learnt, and the importance of archaeological research with human skeletal material.

The Basic Muscles In The Human Body

10 Mar

The muscles are the main contractile tissues of the body involved in movement.  They cause motion and produce force that the body uses to move and manipulate the body.  There are both conscious and subconscious movements of muscles in the body system of a human as a whole.

Each muscle also has its own blood supply, including an artery and vein, alongside  its own nerve connections.  These three supply vessels are often aligned tightly next to each other. Depending on the class of muscles we are looking at, or taken as a whole, the human body consists of around 640+ skeletal muscles.  As we are just looking at the basics to help understand where they are in relation to the major skeletal elements, I will not go into an in-depth discussion here just yet.

There are three kinds of muscles we need to know.

A) Firstly there is the skeletal muscle, which is used for locomotion and skeletal movement.  These muscles are often anchored by Tendons.  A tendon is simply a fibrous connective tissues, from the muscles to the bone elements.  A Ligament is often found in the joints of the body, and are connective fibrous tissues from bone to bone.  The movement of skeletal muscle is often a conscious decision.  The major muscles of the bum, the gluteal muscles, are some of the largest in the human body and are classed as skeletal muscle because they help locomotion of the thighs during ambulation.

B) The second type of muscle is the Smooth Muscle.  The smooth muscles are often found within the organs and structures of organs.  These movements tend to be subconscious, and help in the normal regulation of the human body.  An example of smooth muscle movement is in the use of swallowing food down the esophagus when eating, which involves the peristalsis movement.

C) The third type of muscle is the Cardiac Muscle.  As these muscles are only found within the heart, inside the pericardium sac; therefore detailed knowledge of this muscle collection is not needed when studying osteology.  The cardiac muscles are similar to the skeletal muscles.  However, they are subconscious as the heart beats at a fast and steady rate.

Below is the basic diagrams of the main muscles used in the movement of the modern  human body…

Anterior Muscles of the Human Body

Posterior Muscles of the Modern Human Body

Although this post was originally wrote a fairly long time ago, I have now finished the anatomy module of my MSc course here at the University of Sheffield.  This module composed of dissecting a human cadaver to help understand the vital soft tissues (muscles, nerves, arteries and fat) that are vital in the movement of a human.

I cannot say how vital this experience was in understanding the isolated, and even fully laid out, human skeleton.  It is vital in my opinion that practitioners of human osteology are given the chance to see how the flesh articulates, combines and moves with the skeletal anatomy.  Indeed, understanding the neuronal impulse from the brain, that then flows along the nervous system to engage the muscles to move,  and the skeleton to sustain and support that movement, is really key to understand the different elements, or systems, that make up the human body.