Boney bone bone: More bone goodness in the 2012 excavation season!

Granted, I might be a bit biased.  I can think of a colleague or two who would counter my “BONE!” proclamation with a, “STONE!” or even, “CORNER!”  I never thought I would say I was grateful for the closing of Cutting 3 – dubbed Bone-a-palooza by Jessica, Emma, Kirsten and myself – but there’s only so much bone one can record,  tenderly wash with a toothbrush, record again and maybe even get to do some rudimentary analysis on in one season.  Last year we had about four burials.  This season?  I believe we were up to thirty-four plus several ossuary burials…

Have you ever thought about what death is like?  Honestly.  Who hasn’t?  Really – and the stories we can tell long, long after we’re gone…  It’s fascinating to this osteoarch in training.  Who were we?  Who are we?  Where are we going?  These are the hands-on experiences I work with on a daily basis with the IAFS.

Some exciting osteoarchaeological  finds came up this season: a young woman (?) with a twenty-fifth vertebra (what?!?)… A completely fused finger, proximal through distal phalanges (shut the front door!!!)…  Babies, youths and juveniles (a cillín – oh yes!) – this site has turned into a burgeoning osteoarchaeologist’s dream!

Please pardon this supervisor’s enthusiasm.  In all earnestness, the Irish Archaeological Field School provides students and those who are able to return as supervisors with an amazing, hands on learning experience working with field archaeology principles and practices along with specialization modules such as first hand work with human remains.

The highlight of my time at Blackfriary – aside from working with the osteological finds – came towards the end of August when we were able to attend a NRA (National Roads Authority) conference in Dublin with talks ranging from OSL and C14 dating to LiDAR to Paleobotanical analysis…  The ability to network whilst also running in to past colleagues was amazing.

We must not forget the new students who joined our time tested crew – Sarah McKenna  (NUI Maynooth) and Rebecca Staats (University of Sydney). The end of August also saw the return of the always fabulous Laura Corraway and the hardest working man in archaeology, Ian Kinch.

I’m mad about finishing my degree program and returning to do proper analysis of the site’s osteoarchaeological remains – thus the shortness of my post.  Many pictures to follow soon and preliminary analysis for our faithful readers…


Siobhan Swiderski, Student Osteologicial Supervisor

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities


About blackfriary

The Irish Archaeology Field School (IAFS) is Ireland’s leading provider of university accredited, site based archaeological research and training. The Blackfriary research project is part of a community archaeology project, based in Trim, Co. Meath. Blackfriary is a 13th century Dominican abbey site; the archaeology includes the buried remains of the medieval abbey and graveyard. Students that participate in the excavation experience and practice all aspects of archaeological excavation processes, learning from experts and leaders in their field, and contribute to an established archaeological research project. IAFS have been excavating at Blackfriary since 2010; students participating have come from all over the works including the Australia, Canada, Europe and the USA.
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