Studying ancient skeletons has always been a little -- well, more than a little -- weird. But I've recently started adding DNA to my work, and one result in particular has kind of freaked me out (for lack of a better term) this week. [1/10]
In the work I've been doing on the Oplontis skeletons (Italy, 79 AD), I've been trying to use mtDNA haplotypes to figure out biological relationships among the 64 people who all died in the same room due to the eruption of Mt Vesuvius. [2/10]
My hypothesis going in was that they were maybe a few extended families, sheltering together. So I've been looking for concordances that would suggest close maternal relationships like mother/child, aunt/nephew, cousins, etc. [3/10]
I realized the other day that one particular skeleton -- that of a near-term fetus, found in its mother's pelvic cavity -- had been well preserved enough to provide biological sex information. [4/10]…
In bioarch, we don't estimate sex for prepubertal individuals, as the skeleton isn't dimorphic enough (at least not for standard techniques; there are new techniques being created all the time that I'm not up on). So I've never before had bio sex info for folks this young. [5/10]
More importantly, though, I realized that all the techniques I've used to date are ways of "asking" past people what they already knew: their biological sex, their age-at-death, what they ate, where they came from, whom they were related to... [6/10]
But now, for the first time in my work, I got information that no one else ever knew when they were alive two millennia ago:

I learned the sex of a woman's unborn child. [7/10]
And... perhaps because I've been that woman, wondering what was happening to the growing fetus inside of me, I've been mulling over this information for days now, unsure of what to do with it. [8/10]
Would this woman have wondered whether she was having a boy or a girl? Did it matter to her? What was she most concerned about as Vesuvius roared to life, raining ash and pumice over the entire Bay of Naples? [9/10]
I have no conclusions or pronouncements, just thought I'd share a bit of a shift in the way that I now think of ancient human skeletal remains because of the use of the new (to me) technique of ancient DNA analysis. [10/10]
Since this seems to resonate a bit with folks, here's a link to my project website, which has 3D models you can investigate. Hoping to publish the collection of skeletal data early next year!

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More from @DrKillgrove

9 Jan
On Wednesday evening, just after white nationalists stormed the U.S. Capitol, a panel in the Society for Historical Archaeology annual conference was kicked off. And a well-known white male professor used Nazi language and gesture to intimidate a younger woman panelist. (1/6)
Shortly after the plenary panelists were introduced, archaeologist Liz Quinlan spoke about her successful efforts to create accessibility documents for the SHA conference. She concluded and the moderator, Dr. Della Scott-Ireton, asked if there were questions. (2/6)
U Penn archaeologist Dr. Robert Schuyler said he had questions, but they ended up being irrelevant to Liz's presentation and to the plenary topic itself. As Liz told him this wasn't the place and held the floor, he shouted her down. See video in next tweet. (3/6)
Read 9 tweets
16 Dec 20
Alright, anthropologists. While I haven't read the entirety of That Book on Repatriation that's making the rounds, I have read the last paragraph of each chapter. Hoo boy, I did not expect it to be *this bad*. Screenshots follow...…
For the introduction, I'll highlight this endnote. This is not how the majority of anthropologists use the term "race."
Chapter 1: Paleoindians; The Understudied Individuals

In which we get the authors' assertion that Science Conquers All for the first time.
Read 28 tweets
21 Oct 20
Hey, #archaeology folks! Do you - or anyone you know - need a PAID 💰 internship for 2021? I'm looking for a grad student to help me as Registrar. My project involves archiving old RPA docs, so I could really use someone with expertise in digital archiving and/or curation. (1/5)
The applicant should be self-directed; available to work approximately 10 hours per week; have access to the internet; and able to work remotely from their home. Familiarity with Google Drive, membership databases, version control, and tDAR is preferred, but not required. (2/5)
The intern will assist in: updating and maintaining the membership database; extracting, scanning, concatenating various public & confidential files; sorting and culling documentation; employing best practices in document and data archiving; and writing white papers. (3/5)
Read 5 tweets
11 Mar 20
Since all the cool kids are doing it, here are my suggestions for faculty finding themselves required to pivot to online biological anthropology courses this week. (Thread!)

#anthropology #pedagogy #online #COVID2019 #coronavirus
Tricks to putting (particularly introductory) courses online = 1) split your lectures into short videos using Camtasia/Zoom/etc.,
2) link to others' video resources (e.g., @SciShow), and
3) ask your students to do their own research/homework/lab projects.
I'd recommend making sure everything you do is *asynchronous*. You don't know when/how/if students have broadband access. You don't know their home responsibilities (caregiving duties, etc.). Best not to assume everyone can call in/zoom/skype for a synchronous meeting.
Read 12 tweets
15 May 19
I've seen loads of people discussing the #Alabama #AbortionRights issue this morning, shocked that this could happen. As an anthropologist and (former) six-year resident of "lower Alabama" (FL panhandle), let me give you a bit of history.

I lived in Pensacola, FL, for six years, as a tenure-track (and then tenured) professor at the University of West Florida. I got a job offer there in summer of 2012.

As I started looking into the place that would be the new home for me, my husband, and our then-3-year-old daughter, this was the top news item:…

Read 30 tweets
1 May 19
Good morning, folks still following the #SAA2019 debacle. Some new info has just come in, so here's another mini-thread... (1/n)
Two of the #MeToo survivors who left #SAA2019 due to @SAAorg's failure to kick out David Yesner (who had been banned from UAA campus and the Alaska Anthro Assoc) have confirmed that they've had their registration fee refunded by SAA. (2/n)
And I also got second-hand information from an anonymous Board member that they are muzzled due to the SAA's lawyer. The lawyer has insisted that if the Board talks, they could compromise their Board insurance and open themselves up to personal liability. (3/n)
Read 23 tweets

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