A West Virginia woman who examines human bones for clues about past lives will share the basic techniques used to chronicle a deceased person’s life at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012, at the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville.
Sarah L. Posin, an archaeological consultant who specializes in human osteology and funerary archaeology, will kick off Grave Creek’s third annual lecture and film series with “Osteology and Archaeology: Documenting the Skeletal Evidence of Human Lives.” The series is presented in conjunction with the Upper Ohio Valley Chapter of the West Virginia Archaeological Society and is free and open to the public.
Posin, who grew up in Wheeling and studied medieval burials in England while working on her master’s thesis, became interested in osteology and archaeology during a second-grade field trip to Grave Creek Mound. Osteology is a subdiscipline of archaeology dealing with the detailed study and interpretation of human skeletal remains. Since earning a Master of Science degree in human osteology and funerary archaeology from the University of Sheffield in England, the Marshall University graduate has worked in the Upper Ohio River Valley and throughout the Southeast.
Like some crime-scene investigators portrayed on television, Posin searches for clues that reveal an individual’s age, sex, height, and injuries or diseases suffered during their lifetime, perhaps even a cause of death. Sometimes she can shed light on a person’s past diet and physical activity, which helps interpret what life was like for people who lived hundreds or even thousands of years ago.
“Much like a diary, the human skeleton is a chronicle of a person’s life, and Ms. Posin will share some basic techniques used to read this diary,” said David Rotenizer, site manager at Grave Creek Mound.
The 2012 lecture series continues Thursday, Feb. 23, when Heather Cline, lead curator at the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex, will present “African-American Archaeology in West Virginia and the Ohio Valley” to commemorate African American History Month.
For more information about the lecture and film series or other programs at Grave Creek Mound, contact Andrea Keller, cultural program coordinator at Grave Creek Mound, at (304) 843-4128 or email her at Andrea.K.Keller@wv.gov. Indicate in the message if you are interested in receiving information about upcoming events at the mound.
Operated by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex features one of the largest conical earthen mortuary mounds anywhere in the world. The Delf Norona Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. It is closed on Mondays. Outdoor access closes at 4:30 p.m. and may close due to inclement weather.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The Division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the Division’s programs, events and sites, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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