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Week 22 Volunteering at the Royal College of Surgeons

Outside of the Royal College of Surgeons. Image taken from http://nobelbiocare-eyearcourse.com/fgdp.html.

Outside of the Royal College of Surgeons. Image taken from http://nobelbiocare-eyearcourse.com/fgdp.html.

Today I wasn’t feeling great- I’m not sure what’s up I just didn’t feel like myself however the thought if going in to London made me feel a lot better. I also wanted to be in today as I knew that it would be my last week on the current project before moving on to the new one.

It was a great week to finish this project on as I had some great specimens to record. However before I got into the interesting bits I had to finish off from where I left last week. This meant going through the last few boxes of foot bones. These included the navicular, cuboid and the cuneiforms and was therefore tested again on my ability to side these bones. I think I did quite well as I had the Tim White Human Osteology book next to me, which is always useful!

After the foot bones I moved onto two boxes containing perinatal bones. These are bones which belong to individuals who died either at birth or around that time. When you stop and think it is very sad however these specimens are extremely useful to teaching collections. I have also become slightly desensitised to their context and instead I am fascinated by their size and shape, as the bones are very to their adult size.

The first box I looked at had multiple perinatal skulls as well as vertebral column. These were all articulated and it was amazing being able to hold these specimens as it is rare, particularly in archaeology, to get complete infant bones. The bones were so fragile and light that careful handling is needed and some of he specimens had been previously damaged. I have handled enough bones in my university career to be confident when doing this and therefore had no problems.

The final box of the day had a complete perinatal skeleton which was incredible and an amazing thing to finish the project on. As I have already said it is rare to find complete skeletons in archaeological excavations and therefore I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a complete infant skeleton at first hand. It is amazing how many bones there are and how tiny they are! None of the bones of the vertebrae were fused so they were in 3 parts and to get an idea of the size if this individual the femur was the same length as the back of my hand.

I really love looking at these type of skeletons and I’m not sure why. I just find them fascinating and I wish I had the chance to see more. However, hear collections are rare as they are small in number. For example the specimens that I recorded today were the entire handling collection. There are some others in the stores but they will be either too fragile or valuable to be given to eager students! Another reason why I enjoy this type of work is that I can attempt to age the individuals and by doing this use the information I learnt at University and also learn some new things. For example as I have had to age individuals that were so young before I had to use a different method. This included measuring various points and lengths of the bones to get good age estimate.

I really enjoyed today and it was just what I needed after feeling a bit under the weather this morning. It was a very good day and excellent specimens to finish this project of creating a bone inventory. I am now looking forward to coming back next week and starting on the project which will be involving even more perinatal skulls! Bring it on!

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One thought on “Week 22 Volunteering at the Royal College of Surgeons

  1. Pingback: Around the Archaeology Blog-o-sphere Digest #3 | Doug's Archaeology

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