This week has been a long one! I’m not sure why as it’s been pretty good and quite productive but it’s taken a while to get through. Maybe it’s because I’ve been travelling for my data collection again and I’m not used to driving so much?! As well as my PhD work this week I went to a really cool talk about Bodysnatching in an old operating theatre – perfect for Halloween!
On Monday I was back at the stores of the Hampshire Cultural Trust to finish going through the various sites they have. I’m pretty pleased with myself as I’ve managed to get through a lot of skeletons in a decent amount of time. There are two small sites to work through but as they’ll only take me half a day at most I will return another time. At some point in the future I will need to go to their other store to access a Romano-British population.
My last blog post found me in Cardiff to visit the National Museum of Wales, to see their human remains collection. Since then I have continued with my museum trips and data collection, and so far so good!
On Monday I went to the Museum in the Park. A local museum in Stroud, a town in Gloucestershire. Although my boyfriend lived there when we first went out I never got round to visiting the museum, so here was a great opportunity. It’s a lovely museum located in a beautiful park so is a great place to visit with the family. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to go round the museum apart from walking to a few display cases to measure a couple of skulls! However, from what I did see it looked really nice and well laid ou t- certainly a place to go back and visit.
Whilst at Museum in the Park I was able to measure a number of teeth dating to the Neolithic for my PhD research. These predominately consisted of mandibles but as Neolithic material isn’t great in number these are a welcome addition! It was great working with the collection and I have to say a special thanks to the Documentation and Collections Officer for the museum, Alexia Clark. Alexia was extremely helpful and accommodating and I very much appreciated her help. I don’t see myself heading back to Stroud Museum to collect any more data but if I’m in the area again I may make a special trip to have a proper look around.
In addition to Stroud I also went to the stores of Corinium Museum, Cirencester. As I was born in Swindon, about 20 miles away, I went to the Corinium Museum as a kid. However, I only really remember the Roman exhibits and displays that they have. For this trip I was again looking at Neolithic remains from the site of Hazleton North. Again, I managed to examine some lovely Neolithic teeth, there was also the added bonus of a complete individual and a number of skulls. This is pretty impressive as many of the Neolithic material is dis-articulated and therefore it is difficult to determine specific individuals. This collection will be a great addition to my research.
At some point in the future I will be returning to the Cirencester stores as they have at least one other collection that I wish to use. This is the Anglo-Saxon material from Butler’s Field. Plus there may be a few additional sites dating to the Bronze Age and Iron Age, so I will definitely be going there again soon. Again, the staff at the museum have been incredibly helpful and so everyone I have met have been amazing. They definitely adding to my PhD experience and reinforces my desire to work within the museum sector in some capacity one day!
Although my data collecting has so far been straightforward and without any issues there is one aspect that leaves food for thought. Whilst at working through the Hazleton North material I found that a number of teeth, predominately molars, had been removed for isotopic analysis. This of course means that I cannot use them for my project. This isotopic work has increased the understanding of the individuals within the collection, including what food they ate and where they originated. In some aspects this will aid my research as the diet can be determined, which is vital for understanding the factors contributing to dental wear. On the other hand, I am now unable to include those teeth in my own research. This means that there are some individuals that I can no longer use, as no molars are present, therefore reducing my sample size. I see this an unavoidable annoyance. I respect the other researchers, and certainly their research will contribute to my own work in an alternative way, and most importantly their work will provide useful insights of the past. None-the-less, I can’t help but feel a twinge of irritation – especially if it effects a juvenile individual!
Next week I hope to visit some of the collections held by Hampshire Cultural Trust, and in the mean time I have to finish taking measurement from my photos of the collections and attend a friend’s engagement party, oh and play two hockey matches! At some point I will have a day off!
It’s been a while since my last post and I’ve been meaning to create a page for identifying and distinguishing molars a while now, but I’ve finally gotten round to it.
At university and during my time as an undergraduate I found it quite difficult to distinguish between the different teeth – particularly the molars. As my PhD project focuses on these teeth I had to quickly gets to grips with identifying molar teeth correctly. I’ve therefore created a new page to help other osteologists out there who need some extra help!
This page only includes the upper and lower permanent molars as they are the teeth I am most familiar with. Also, some of the tips and features I have mentioned below are from my own observations although the majority come from Simon Hillson’s book ‘Dental Anthropology,’ (1996) which I highly recommend if you are going to spend any time looking at teeth.
Go and check it out here! Also, I’m always happy to receive feedback and comments 🙂
I’ve been a bit quiet in this blog recently as I have moved house so there were of things to sort out . However , I have still been volunteering and gave made great progress on the Stack Collection of deciduous teeth.
I have now finished photographing and recording the specimens and I can honestly say my ability to identify teeth has greatly improved. Teeth were not always a strong point for me, mainly because we did not have a lot of practical experience with them at university. However, by using the common osteological text books (including Simon Hillson’s Dental Anthropology, Tim White’s Human Osteology and ‘The Skeleton Keys’ by Schwartz) and drawing on my own memory I was able to identify the teeth quite quickly. By the time I came to the of the specimens I felt reassured of my ability and therefore went back to the first specimen to check them. This was a good idea as I did make some corrections and was able to clarify some of the teeth I was unsure about.
As I have finished with the actual specimens I have moved on to recording the information written in a catalogue of dentition, which was created by the collector. This is enabling me to check some of the information I have already obtained from associated cards as well as adding comments from the Pathologist’s Report. So far these have include cardiac defects, defects associated with the Central Nervous System and pre-eclampsia. I recognised some of the conditions as they appeared in the previous project such as spina bifida and intra-cranial haemorrhage. There were a few defects I did not recognise but a quick Internet search revealed the condition.
I will not be in next week as I am switching my work days round so I can attend the proffered papers meeting for the Society for the Study of Human Biology. I am very much looking forward to going to this meeting as there are going to be some very interesting papers being presented. This includes one by Dr Liversidge who has previously used the collection I am currently working so I intend to introduce myself to her.
This week at the College I started photographing and recording the deciduous teeth in the current collection. This is an extremely delicate task as the teeth are so small and fragile. I had to carefully line the teeth up, arranged by tooth type, and take a photograph using a 1cm scale bar for reference.
It has been a little while since organising and arranging teeth so I had to refer to some textbooks to be certain. I attempted to arrange the teeth by type (incisor, canine and molar) and where possible I identified whether the teeth came from the maxilla (upper jaw) or mandible (lower jaw). This wasn’t too difficult for the incisors but I couldn’t always identify the molars and it was very hard to work out which jaw the canines came from. The difficulty of identifying theses teeth was a result of their size and age. The individuals I was working with were fetal or neo-natal and therefore only a small amount of dental development had occurred. This means that there is little to no development of the roots resulting in the crowns of the teeth being present, for example the canines only consist of a small triangle of enamel. The image below in the first pictures gives you an idea of the stage of development I am dealing with.
By the end of this project I am going to be very well experienced in handling, tiny specimens as well as increasing my knowledge of deciduous teeth.
I had a shorter day at the College this week because last Saturday I was hit in the head with a hockey ball so at the moment I’m a little prone to small headaches. I had a very impressive black eye, which I’ve never had before, that has gone a wonderful shade of various colours! However, it looks a lot worse that in was, the most annoying thing was that I was hit about 5 minutes into the game. Anyway I had another good day at the College, black eye and all!
This week I carried on with the digitalisation of the cards associated with the collection I am working with at the moment. These cards are for each set of deciduous teeth that are in the collection and include information about the owner of the teeth. This is very sensitive data and some even have the pathologies that the individual had. I’m therefore learning even more medical terms and conditions which is very interesting, there are even a few that I have recognised from medial drama such as Grey’s Anatomy (I’m a late comer to the show but I’m totally hooked! Thankfully I have Amazon Prime and watch multiple episodes at a time).
Next week I might take a break from the cards and start on the teeth.