Osteoarchaeology with the Young Archaeologists’ Club

This post is about our volunteer’s activity with the Sheffield Young Archaeologists’ Club at the Department of Archaeology Osteology Lab. Our Archaeology in the City volunteer Kris is also a leader with the Sheffield YAC, and MA Osteoarchaeology student Emma developed and led an osteology activity.

This month Archaeology in the City and the YAC joined forces again to do another archaeology activity. This time we looked at how investigating skeletons can tell us about peoples’ health in the past.

Emma started off giving the club members two (plastic) skeletons – the group had to assemble the skeletons correctly… but to make things more interesting, a few parts been swapped between boxes, or left out completely. This is a real problem faced by archaeologists excavating ancient burials – sometimes bits do go astray.


Next, Emma showed us some indicators of health. Your teeth say a lot about you – the Department’s teaching and reference collection includes many examples of dental health: cavities, plaque, abcesses and antemortem tooth loss.

Finally, Emma showed us some examples of trauma – the skeleton of a young man who had been badly injured in an industrial accident in the 17th century, but who lived for several years afterwards, and the skull of a man who had met his end on a medieval battlefield.

The YAC members handled these real skeletons with respect and care, and asked some really good questions.

Emma designed and implemented this activity herself – she’s an MA student at Sheffield, and is planning to apply for her PhD here too, so fingers crossed she can do some more activities with the YAC in the future.

Published by archinthecity

Archaeology in the City is the student-run volunteer outreach programme from the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sheffield.

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