It’s Christmas! My last post for 2016

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Sorry I’ve been a bit rubbish about posting recently, I’ve had quite a bit to do. But now it’s time to stop and relax for a little while as it’s Christmas!
Tomorrow I’m going to Southampton for one last day to volunteer at a conference that is currently being hosted by the archaeology department at Southampton university. This is for the TAG conference (Theoretical Archaeology Group) and its the first time I’ve been. There’s quite a bit on including a Christmas market selling books, jewellery, cards and lots of other nice things. There’s also a lot of talks, with multiple sessions running all at once. One of the sessions is for the conference I’m helping to organize, Skeletons, Stories & Social Bodies  and I’m really looking forward to hearing the presentations.
Speaking of SSSB it’s going well. The abstract deadline has now closed and we’ve had plenty of submissions, which means a great amount of talks to select from! We’ve also chosen the workshops, which are varied and sound very interesting. The key note speakers have also been confirmed and announced – and I’m very excited about that! We’ve got Heather Bonney from the Natural History Museum, London and Caroline Wilkinson from Face Lab, based at Liverpool John Moores University. It’s all coming together now and I can’t wait. The only deadline that is left is for art submissions for the exhibition, so if you have any art (or could recommend anyone!) that would fit within the conference give me a shout. I also would like to say thank you to David Mennear for advertising the conference on his blog These Bones of Mine. It’s a great blog covering a range of topics in bioarchaeology, and I strongly recommend visiting!
So why haven’t I been around for a while? Well I’ve been collecting data, so traveling to Winchester for that, volunteering at the Royal College of Surgeons, playing hockey and finishing a draft for my upgrade, which will take place next year. Oh yeah and I also had to prepare a presentation for the TAG conference – my first proper conference! So I’ve been fairly busy but I feel like it’s all going well. But I’m not going to lie I’m very happy it’s Christmas and I can take a break!
I’m off to my mum’s in a few days, then up to the in-laws for Christmas Day. I’m very much looking forward to lots of nice food and drink, some well deserved rest and most importantly lots of family time. So Merry Christmas all, enjoy the holidays and see you in the New Year!
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Return to Cardiff Museum

Sorry I didn’t post anything late week I was rather busy so it slipped my mind, so this post will talk about my last 2 weeks of work. This includes another trip to the stores of the Corinium Museum, volunteering at the Royal College of Surgeons, a trip to the Cotswold Archaeology office and another up to the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff.
My visit to the Corinium Museum stores was successful again. I got through another load of Anglo-Saxon skeletons for my data collection. It’s such a good collection and its going to be very useful for my PhD project as it includes lots of juvenile individuals. This makes me very happy! However, I’ve got quite a few more trips to make to their stores as it’s such a large collection.
The day after my trip to Cirencester I was back at the Royal College  of Surgeons volunteering in the museums department. It’s been a few weeks since  I’ve been there as the museum has been quite busy and haven’t been able to have me in. However, it was great to be back packing more skeletons into boxes ready for the move. Of course, it was also great to see the staff members again. I do enjoy working there!
So that was last week. I started this week by coming up to Kemble, which is near Cirencester. The purpose of this trip was to visit one of the office of Cotswold Archaeology, as they had a couple of Bronze Age and Iron Age skeletons. Whilst there I got to meet a couple of lovely people, including Sharon Clough who gave me some great information regarding some of the other collections I’m intending to use in my research. I also got to chat to Sharon about commercial archaeology units and learn a bit more about them. I’ve only really visited museums and universities so far, so it was a really good opportunity to learn about the commercial sector – a completely new area for me!
This week has ended with a trip but to the National Museum of Wales, in Cardiff. In my last visit I went through the prehistoric human remains in their collection. This time I was going back to the relevant specimens and taking measurements. I’ve now managed to get collection of Neolithic individuals recorded, plus a few Bronze Age remains, which is always good!
So another day, another lot of data collection completed. I think it’s all going well – I feel like I’ve got a lot done, but then I still have a load more to do! As a little fish called Dory once said ‘just keep swimming!’

The Index of Care for Bioarchaeologists

The skeletal remains of Man Bac Burial 9 used as the first case study for the model. Image taken from http://www.indexofcare.org/About.aspx

The skeletal remains of Man Bac Burial 9 used as the first case study for the model. Image taken from http://www.indexofcare.org/About.aspx

I was looking through some past articles from the International Journal of Paleopathology when the following title caught my eye: ‘Introducing the Index of Care: A web-based application supporting archaeological research into health-related care.’ 

A quick read through the article supporting this application indicates that it aims to do what it says on the tin! Currently there is a lack of insight into the care giving in relation to the prehistoric lifestyle and this aims to address that. The application provides worksheets and guidance on how data should be collected and analysed if there is evidence of human remains who have some form of disability. The concluding paragraph of the article states that it is ‘not designed to produce precise answers to complex questions of past healthcare provisions…But the index is intended to help researchers think through these question constructively and creatively.’ (Tilley & Cameron 2014 p.8)

The index is broken down into four stages/steps which include 1) describing, documenting and diagnose the pathology. 2) Determine the disability, its impact on the individual’s daily activities and functional ability. 3) To derive a ‘model of care,’ i.e. the implication of the disability and the types of support and care needed in order for the individual. Finally there is step 4) the interpretation of the environment, lifestyle and the form of care. In other words the conclusion and story behind the individual and their disability.

This sounds like an interesting idea, if anything to create a database of disabilities and pathologies that were present in prehistoric populations. I would be wary how far some people may go  when completing the final step , but then I come from a background which heavily relies on facts and evidence and avoids making far-reaching scenarios. However, to give credit to the creators of the application they do say with regards to step four that researchers may choose to ignore it, as some  may find it uncomfortable with this level of interpretation.

The Index is currently at its the early beta stage of development and testing. It will be interesting to keep an eye on it and see how it is received by bioarchaeologists out in the field. Unfortunately I am not one so I can’t comment on how well the index works so far – but if there are any of you out there who are let me know what you think! To use the application you can freely access it through this website, where you must register and then go on to create a new case study.

There’s also an interview with Lorna Tilley from These Bones of Mine  about her work. This is also worth a read to a get more personal view of the model.

Reference:

Lorna Tilley & Tony Cameron (2014) ‘Introducing the Index of Care: A web-based application supporting archaeological research into health-related care.’ International Journal of Paleopathology, Volume 6: 5-9, ISSN 1879-9817, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpp.2014.01.003. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1879981714000266)