biological anthropology


From Giulio Cosseddu:

Archaeo-anthropological finds are a valuable source of knowledge on environmental conditions, and living habits of  ancient people.
It is important not to lose this informative heritage. So, I think that even for this cultural heritage a digital cataloging process is essential.
My working day (free work) starts with a train journey to the anthropology lab in a nearby town where I graduated nearly two years ago.
First of all I look for  a workplace where I can access a PC.
This work is a continuation of the analysis of the bones found in an archaeological site. I’ve made earlier such analysis (this work was more funny!).
I currently work on taphonomic  cards and on cards containing various  anthropometric and morphometric data about the age of death, health status etc.
I use the cataloging system SIGEC that provides a special form for the cataloging of archaeo-anthropological finds.
The multimedia documentation  is very useful  and then I insert in to the card the photo of the skeleton lying on the desk.

Following the menu of the program I have to do some steps.
I insert the  discovery site  specifying the number of the grave and stratigraphic unit.
Later, I insert also the current location of the skeleton.
I specify the type of the find (organic material, anatomical specimens of a single individual or fragmented remains).
I insert information about the context where the heritage has been found (archaeological excavations, work excavations, museums, private collections …).
I insert also the historical data (birth and death dates, dating and history of the cemetery or grave or burial crypt).
Then, the analytical data allow deepening the description of the individual finds (complete or fragmented finds, sex of individuals, age of death, any pathological signs observed .. etc.).
It is necessary also to specify if the piece has been treated to improve retention,  for ritual practices etc..
So, I enter bibliographic data and legal status.
I specify if  the data can be disclosed to all people (accessible) or not (not accessible).
Finally I insert the name of the cataloguer, cataloging date and the name of the scientific referent (who currently has the availability of the property).
It is a monotonous job but not useless especially if you want review  some finds.
In fact these finds could be examined again with  more in depth methods of analysis (radiological techniques, assessments on the DNA …).
A digital cataloging with uniform criteria will allow to easily find the historical  and analytical data about a find.
Many times important finds can no longer be found simply because of the transfer of a laboratory or an improper location.
Proper classification helps ensuring the preservation of these valuable sources of knowledge.
Although the field work is much more exciting, I believe that this methodical cataloging is very important.
So, my day is over, without overwhelming emotions, but I helped to improve the protection, development and usability of our archaeo-anthropological heritage.