One of the aims of this blog, especially more so since it has grown in the past few years, is to highlight the opportunities available to both bioarchaeology researchers and the public alike. As a previous post highlighted, never has there been a better time to be involved with bioarchaeological research and never has it been so open before to members of the public to engage with it (for instance, try your hand here or check out some resources here!). The communication of the aims, and the importance of the discipline, in the aid of understanding past populations and their lifestyles is of vital interest if we are to remain a dynamic and responsive field. As such it gives me great pleasure to announce that, starting from now, I’ll be helping to disseminate the results of the Show Us Your Research! (SUYR!) project spearheaded by researchers at the University of Coimbra and the University of Algarve in Portugal.
The SUYR! project aims to promote the projects that archaeologists and anthropologists have been involved in by diminishing the gap between the researchers and the public by regular concise publications aimed at the public (Campanacho et al. 2015). The project is aimed at researchers from the anthropological and archaeological fields from around the globe and accepts entries on methodologies, artefacts, theories, site studies and pathological studies, amongst other topics. To me this is a really exciting opportunity for early career archaeologists and anthropologists and one that I am thrilled to disseminate the results of. It is hoped that the project expands into interviews with researchers as well!
SUYR! 2015 Entry No. 4: Carina Marques and a Palaeopathological Approach to Neoplasms
The latest entry in the series focuses on malignant tumours (or neoplasms) in the palaeopathology record. The entry, submitted by researcher Carina Marques who is based at the Research Centre for Anthropology and Heath (CIAS) at the University of Coimbra, focuses on the skeletal evidence for malignant tumours in archaeological populations by investigating prevalence and typology of their presence. Cancer, as the World Health Organisation figures testify, is a major cause of human mortality internationally; however their neoplastic natural history, physical manifestation and evolution remains something of a ‘challenging endeavor’ (Marques 2015).
As such Marques has studied and analysed Portuguese reference collections of numerous skeletal remains dating from the 19th to 20th centuries to try to identity and catalog neoplasms in the aim to ask how precise the pathological diagnosis of malignant tumours are in fairly modern skeletal remains. The research highlighted that the skeletal manifestations of tumours can vary and that they can present similarly to other pathological processes which can be hard to identify down to a single process. However, the research also documented that malignant tumours often left their mark on bone, particularly metastases (after the cancer had spread from one area of the body to another). The research has helped produce a body of data that characterizes neoplastic prevalence in these populations, providing an important historical context for the evolution of neoplasms. Furthermore Marques (2015) has also helped clinicians identify and characterize the early lesions that can often be missed on radiological examination.
How to Submit Your Research
There are a number of formats in which submissions to SUYR! can be made – these include either a 500 word abstract of your research project, a picture or photograph with a note of no more than 200 words, or via a video lasting 3 to 5 minutes detailing the research undertaken and its importance (the specifics of the video format and style can be found here). Remember that you are writing for interested members of the public who want to hear and read about the interesting research topics that archaeologists and anthropologists are pursuing and why. These necessarily precludes that the use of isolating jargon is limited and that the writing is clear to understand. More importantly, this fantastic opportunity levers the researcher with a communication channel to both the academic and public spheres alike. SUYR! has three major themes of interest (bioanthropology, archaeology, and social and cultural anthropology) for the submissions and three researchers to contact for each interest. The following image highlights who to contact to send your research to:
How to Get on Board
If you are a blogger, a microblogger (ie a Twitter user), or merely want to share your interest in the fields of archaeology and anthropology to your family and friends, then you too can join in spreading word about SUYR! Simply copy and paste the website and share with your circle of family and friends. The articles are freely available from the main SUYR! site. If you are a college or university student who is interested in highlighting the various projects discussed via the project then perhaps you could even print out the pages and put them up on the community noticeboard in your department. If you are an active researcher within the above fields then why not consider sending in your own past or current research? This is a great opportunity to highlight the knowledge, breadth and depth, of archaeological research and the value of bioarchaeological research to the public.
- The archives of the SUYR! project can be found here for 2014 and here for 2015 years. Both of the years papers detail some really interesting projects going on in the anthropology fields, particularly in bioarchaeology. For example, Dr Charlotte Henderson kicks off the 2014 papers with an exciting and enlightening piece on the ability, and problems, of osteologists to infer occupation from skeletal remains. Later on in the year Victoria Beauchamp and Nicola Thorpe investigate the work of The Workers’ Education Association (WEA) in England and assess the impact of using heritage as a teaching aid. Both papers can be downloaded for free here. In 2015 Dave Errickson (a friend and a previous guest blogger on this site) has an entry on his work digitizing forensic evidence using 3D scans and laser scanning. The site itself is available to translate into a number of languages by simply clicking the scroll down box on the right hand side.
- The Grupo de Estudos em Evolucao Humana (Group of Studies in Human Evolution), at the University of Coimbra, have a website highlighting the ongoing initiatives, activities and projects by the members of the group. This includes hosting conferences, workshops and open days on any number of evolutionary topics. You can find out more information here.
Campanacho, V., Pereira, T. & Nunes, M.J. 2015. Show Us Your Research! An Anthropological and Archaeological Publication for the Greater Public. Palaeopathology Newsletter. 170: 26.
Marques, C. 2015. A Palaeopathological Approach to Neoplasms: Skeletal Evidence from the Portuguese Identified Osteological Collections. Show Us Your Research! 2015, No. 4. (Open Access).