The Bone Yard

Post by Michelle Reed, PSU Undergraduate and Archaeology Lab Intern

Pelvis, Ulna and Ribs (Photo by Michelle Reed)

Pelvis, Ulna and Ribs (Photo by Michelle Reed)

My second quarter working in Professor Anderson’s practicum lab was spent cleaning bones recovered from the Port Clarence Project in Alaska.  As we progressed through the cleaning I found myself learning more and more about how to classify the bones in terms of marine and terrestrial mammals, avian and shell fragments. Making my way through bag after bag of bones–very few of which contained complete bones–I brushed, scraped, shook, picked, and brushed some more, trying to remove as much of the dirt as I could.  Just when I though the bone was clean and I sat it in a clean tray, more pieces of debris would fall out. As I became more comfortable with the techniques needed for this task, I began to be able to identify the individual bones and the type of animal they came from.  Of course, this would not have been possible without the help of our resident expert, Stephanie, who kindly tutored me day after day.  Thanks Stephanie!!

Thoracic Vertebra (Photo by Michelle Reed)

Thoracic Vertebra (Photo by Michelle Reed)

Working in the lab has been a delightful experience for me as an older student. Not being saddled with time constraints, as are the younger students in the class, I found myself staying more hours than required as time would just slip away from me. It is truly that fascinating to be in a lab situation! My hope is to take my new found knowledge and experience and volunteer wherever I am needed.

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