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Osteobiography: Stories from the Skeleton

Date and Time: 
Friday, January 16, 2015. 12:00 PM - 01:30 PM
Meeting Location: 
Archaeology Center (Building 500), Seminar Room (Room 106)
Meeting Description: 
About the speaker:
Alexis Boutin is an assistant professor of anthropology and coordinator of the Cultural Resources Management MA Program at Sonoma State University. She is a bioarchaeologist with particular interests in exploring embodied personhoods, by creating fictive osteobiographical narratives. She is also the co-director of the Dilmun Bioarchaeology Project.
 
Since its inception almost 40 years ago, bioarchaeology has provided new and unique insights on life in the past, via the study of human remains from archaeological sites. Large-scale analyses of populations have traditionally predominated, emphasizing statistically significant patterns in sample that were considered reasonably representative of living communities. However, in the past decade, bioarchaeologists have increasingly begun to zoom in to the level of the individual. This smaller-scale approach has been inspired by the “osteobiography” model first proposed by Frank Saul in 1972, which aims to reconstruct the life history of individuals as recorded in bone. In this presentation, I will discuss why the osteobiography approach has gained traction in recent years, as well as the opportunities and challenges presented by its application. I will also draw on my own research to present the osteobiography of a young woman with disabilities from Early Dilmun, a late third-early second millennium polity in the western Arabian Gulf.

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