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.
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.
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, calculus, enamel 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.
- An interesting and relevant blog entry on the use of dental remains in archaeological samples can be found here.