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Posted on April 17th, 2014, by

Being interested in archeology, I have found that essentially, archaeologists are similar to detectives who are busy with reconstructing and understanding the life of past ages, so it is not surprising that they use a variety of materials, methods and techniques for the extraction of information from the material traces left by ancient people. Thus, I have visited an exhibit with the title Written in Bone: Forensic Files of the 17th Century Chesapeake which has its place at Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History for the purpose to understand how archeologists examine bones to find the truth about events of America’s past.

To begin, I need to state that the exhibit was a kind of discovery for me because Written in Bone brightly demonstrates the development of contemporary world on the sharp contrast to past reality. I mean that now people can “see and read”¯ the history of 17th century through bone biographies due to the development of modern instruments and the technological advances of archeological investigation. For instance, an object under the title Skeleton Speaks demonstrates that it is possible to know more about the person who lived many ages ago, including his age, sex, and even the cause of death and when it happened. Moreover, it is a possibility to learn the personal story and to analyze the way of someone’s life. Into the acknowledgement of this fact, I can mention a presence of the bones of the boy, whose skeleton was found during excavation. In the boy’s case, scientists even have examined the reason of his death and proved that he was very sick during his lifetime. In addition, I need to say that I was really impressed by the existence of forensic anthropologic lab at the end of the exhibit because it is a place where skillful professionals can find true answers on their questions on the base of excavated archeological material, and any person who is interested in archeology can see all the actions by the own eyes.

To continue, saying about the technological advances, I can mention that archeologists use radiocarbon method in their practice because radiocarbon method has a significant impact on the development of different areas of science starting from nuclear physics and forensics, but especially it is useful for geology and archeology. Thus, due to modern technical equipment and using the bones, archeologists read the personal stories of many people like we read a book in our everyday practice

Analyzing the interdependent relationship between biology and culture as it is presented in this exhibit, I can note that bones can give the answers to many questions including occupation, individual status, health and even diet of the persons whose remains were found. Thus, the exhibit Written in Bone unusually extended spatial and temporal horizon of history on the examples of the analysis of the remains of once-living individuals.

In conclusion, having visited the exhibition, I realized the necessity to explore the past for the purpose to understand the future better. The exhibition inspired me to continue my researches in archeological area and to become more interested in historical events of America in colonial period. To add, the exhibit Written in Bone demonstrated also a necessity to be creative because in contrast to the written sources, the material sources, such as bones and other remains, do not contain a narrative of the historical events and facts, but they include a various quantity of other information and present the fact that historical conclusions about a particular event, the degree of development of society can be made on the base of scientific reconstruction.

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