Archaeology Bones & DNA

This assignment is to pick any one archaeological site and write a brief plan on how you would learn from the bones and DNA. Don’t worry about money; assume it’s not a concern.

First, briefly describe your site. 2-3 sentences should be fine. Examples: a pirate shipwreck off the Carolina coast in 20 feet of water; a stone henge on a hilltop in northern Scotland; a prehistoric village buried by a landslide in Panama. You can make up any site you want.

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Second, think about what you would like to learn from the bones and DNA. Then think about how you would figure that out from the bones–animal and/or human–and DNA. You do NOT have to research or make up any data, just plan what you would do in an ideal situation. Example for a Celtic mining village from the Roman contact period in Austria: age structure of the cattle to try to figure out if they were dairy or beef/meat cattle, Sr isotopes on the people’s teeth to examine migration and endogamy/exogamy patterns, watch out for any odd bones, like camel, that might indicate Roman army presence, DNA from human bones, but inhuman burials are not expected based on known patterns, so only accidental and anomalous human skeletons are expected. I.e. nothing wrong with talking about something you would like to do (DNA in this example) that you don’t think is likely based on the site archaeology (very unlikely to get full body burials in my made-up site, which just happens to be true in real life too). You would be ably demonstrating you know the material, which is the main goal here after all. In real life, you would be saving time and money.

You should write about one page, standard font size, and spacing. Include at least 3 bones/bioarchaeological/DNA methods. 4 paragraphs should do it. Intro + one each for the three methods. Talk about why you choose them and what advantages and disadvantages they might have for your site.

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