Week 3: Orkney Island’s importance

Orkney is an archipelago located in the Northern Isles of Scotland. Only 20 out of approximately 70 of its islands are inhabited. Orkney is rich in prehistoric archaeological records. Orkney used to be inhabited by tribes of people. It contains the “Heart of Neolithic Orkney” which is listed in UNESCO world heritage site and as a whole approximately 3000 Neolithic sites have be found till now. The site consists of four sites: Maeshowe, Standing stones of Stenness, Ring of Brodgar and Skara Brae (http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/index/heritage/worldheritage/world-heritage-sites-in-scotland/neolithic-orkney.htm) . Ness of Brodgar, which is not listed on the UNESCO world heritage, is also another important site and possibly of religious importance at the Neolithic period as evident from the ceremonial complex and about 300 cattle bones discovered (possibly sacrificed).

Ness of Brodgar (Source: http://www.archaeology.org/issues/61-1301/features/327-scotland-orkney-neolithic-brodgar)
Ness of Brodgar (Source: http://www.archaeology.org/issues/61-1301/features/327-scotland-orkney-neolithic-brodgar)

The houses, monuments, potteries, weapons and wall arts are important as it enables us to picture how their lifestyle was 5000 years ago. Tombs containing both human and animal skeletal remains  have also been excavated example the tomb of eagles and the tomb of the otters. Approximately 16000 and 3000 human skeletons were collected from the tomb of eagles and the tomb of the otters (Creation research society and Banks chambered tomb) . The bones are also of importance as it can tell when the person died, if it was because of pathological reason or violence. From the bones we can estimate their age, sex, diet, his/her identity etc. How tombs and chambers were used for burial of the dead shows the importance of the living and the dead even at that period of time.

I will try to focus more on the skeletal remains found in the tomb of the otters and look for possible links to the Neolithic period’s culture and lifestyle.


Week 2

This week I contacted my partner through text message and because we both have different university timetables therefore it will be a bit difficult for us to meet in person very often, we have decided to communicate through phone and messages. We have also agreed to collect any information regarding our case study of ancient human skeletal remains of Orkney Isle,  individually and then later arrange a date to meet up and combine our finds like articles, videos and images. Then we will be discussing and planning for our video presentation in November.

I have also collected few articles but have not finished going through them all but hopefully will be able to do so and collect more and reliable sources in next few weeks. The links to the articles are listed below. I will also try and track down primary sources of these articles.

  1. http://search.proquest.com/docview/1554511844?OpenUrlRefId=info:xri/sid:primo&accountid=14987
  2. http://www.creationresearch.org/crsq/articles/39/39_2/tomb_eagles.htm
  3. https://bonesdontlie.wordpress.com/2011/06/24/charnel-houses-ancient-medieval-and-modern/
  4. http://www.scotsman.com/news/charnel-house-gives-up-its-secret-1-000-human-bones-1-1691696#axzz3p2tbRaVN

Week 1: Introduction to the case study

On 03/10/2015, our first session for the module, we were introduced to anthropology. As a class we came up with a list of evidence and what we want to know about a person. The list are as follows:

  • cultural and historical record
  • Palynology for pollen evidence
  • DNA from hair, bones and flesh
  • geographical location
  • Teeth and bones for age, sex, height, weight and identification
  • Any marks or wound on the body
  • Possesions e.g. clothes, bags, weapons

For this session we looked at the “Otzi: Iceman” case. We read several research papers on the topic and collected as much findings as possible to narrow down his possible identity, origin, lifestyle and possible cause of his death.

For the anthropology case study my group has been assigned the topic “Ancient human skeletal remains of the Orkney Isles”. I will start off by reading general articles around the topic and get so idea about it. To collect information on the topic I will use the library’s search, google scholar and PubMed for peer reviewed and reliable sources. We will also be considering the list above while working on our case study.