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Viewing swaag.org website implies consent to set cookies on your computer. Full details Swaledale and Arkengarthdale Archaeology Group
Registered Charitable Incorporated Organisation Number 1155775
SWAAG Honorary President:
Tim Laurie FSA
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Excellent talk by Charlotte Roberts
Professor Charlotte Roberts of Durham University gave us a superb overview of her specialism in Bioarchaeology. She has studied the archaeology of human remains for the past 35 years and was PhD supervisor to another of our speakers, Professor Janet Montgomery.
An adult human skeleton contains 206 bones while an infant whose bones have not yet fused, has 850. Our life leaves traces in our bones of diet and disease, of where we have lived, age, sex, height. Muscle attachments and wear and tear give clues about occupations. Anyone who saw Julian Richards' TV series "Meet the Ancestors" may remember Charlotte's fascinating explanations of evidence from the skeletons they examined.
Newer techniques are revealing even more detail such as the CT scans finding arterial plaques in Egyptian mummies, indicating heart disease. Isotope analysis tells us about diet and migration. Ancient DNA speaks of kinship, migration and disease. ADNA of pathogens in dental plaque identifies diseases such as TB, Leprosy, Malaria and eColi.
There were some surprises. Contrary to common belief, a survey of some 37,000 skeletons from the Mesolithic to Modern times, showed that average height in the UK has not changed dramatically through time.
Charlotte also raised the ethical issues around handling human remains and their subsequent storage. Should human remains be reburied? Is it OK to put skeletons on display? There was a lot to think about.
For those who would like to learn more, there is Charlott'e's book, "Human Remains in Archaeology" Published in 2018 and a MOOC on FutureLearn about Scottish soldiers buried at Durham. The MOOC begins in October.
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News Record: 100     Updated: 14-09-2019 10:00:31

Dr Charlotte Roberts to speak at our next meeting
At our next Members' Meeting, 7pm on Tuesday September 10th, at The Buck Hotel in Reeth, Dr Charlotte Roberts of Durham University will be giving us a talk entitled

"From nursing to the archaeology of disease: a life caring for the living and the dead"

Dr Roberts specialises in the study of human bones. She says, "I am a bioarchaeologist, and have a background in archaeology, environmental archaeology and human bioarchaeology. I have studied and interpreted human remains from archaeological sites for the past 35 years, and I am specifically interested in exploring the interaction of people with their environments in the past through patterns of health and disease (palaeopathology), and especially those health problems that are common today."
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News Record: 99     Updated: 18-08-2019 13:27:41

Is this a souterrain?
Towards the end of the fortnight, this interesting feature emerged in Area 2. It appears to be a large, stone-lined pit with a paved floor. We have also found a concentration of hefty rim sherds, mostly Huntcliffe-ware, in this part of the site.
A souterrain is an underground structure associated with Northern Europe in the Iron Age. Regionally also known as an Earth House or Fogou, there are souterrains open to the public, on Skye and Orkney for example. From experience it's best to take a torch!
While no-one knows for sure what they were used for, the most likely answer is for food storage. So this might have been a larder where pots of food, probably dairy products, were stored.
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News Record: 97     Updated: 24-07-2019 09:49:43

 
 
 
 
 
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