Smell a corpse, not smell like one, Arbuthnot.
B.C.’s own Heather Pringle has a new blog these days, and her recent post on the use of forensic dogs to detect archaeological sites and human remains in particular, in Washington State, is worth a read:
According to the staff at the Institute for Canine Forensics, dogs can smell human remains that are buried as much as nine feet below the surface. And they can detect remains as old as 2000 years. ”Human remains have a scent that never, ever goes away, especially a bone, even after it dries out,” one of the institute’s staff members told The Peninsula Daily News.
La Brea Woman forensic reconstruction.
I came across this interesting article chronicling an emerging controversy in Los Angeles. I never knew that human remains had been found in the La Brea tar pits, but a partial skeleton of a young female had been on display until recently in the George C. Page Museum there. At some point, a museum volunteer made forensic-style reconstructive drawings of this young woman. Now the museum is trying to prevent their publication, a move which some claim is designed to help prevent their repatriation.
Are illustrations of human remains tantamount to display of the human remains themselves? Is the display of a cast any different? The forensic reconstructionist apparently used the cast, not the actual skull. But consider the process of making a cast: is not that a greater insult to the dead than merely handling their bones would be? In any case, these forensic reconstructions contain a little too much interpretive latitude: consider the Kennewick man reconstruction whose resemblance to Patrick Stewart has done nothing to quell the notion Kennewick man was ‘Caucasian’. Further, the forensic reconstructions include disturbing “cutaways” revealing the reconstructive process and producing an otherworldly, inhuman appearance (see below).
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Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, California, Miscellaneous
Tagged Archaeology, California, Chumash, forensics, La Brea, museums, reconstruction, visual archaeology