Narrativizing a Bioarchaeology of Care: A Case Study from Ancient Dilmun

Author(s): Alexis Boutin

Year: 2015


Since 2008, the Dilmun Bioarchaeology Project has been studying and publishing the materials from Peter B. Cornwall’s 1940-41 expedition to Bahrain and eastern Saudi Arabia, which now reside in the Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley. By analyzing these skeletal and artifactual remains, our multi-disciplinary team is adding to anthropologists’ understanding of how life was experienced and death commemorated in Dilmun. One of the most exceptional skeletons belongs to a young woman who lived and died during the Early Dilmun period (ca. 2050-1800 BCE). Humerus varus deformity, femoral anteversion, and unusually short stature would have differentiated her visibly from the surrounding population and somewhat modified her mobility. Yet she was buried with more elaborate grave goods than her contemporaries, raising the possibility that her loss was especially profound. With guidance from the Index of Care, I will present a fictive osteobiographical narrative that explores the care that this young woman may have required at certain stages of her life course. This type of writing prompts a critical examination of the ways that bioarchaeologists interpret and disseminate their findings. It also provides a more humanizing view of past personhoods that communicates effectively and accessibly with broad public audiences.

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Cite this Record

Narrativizing a Bioarchaeology of Care: A Case Study from Ancient Dilmun. Alexis Boutin. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395740)


Geographic Keywords
West Asia

Spatial Coverage

min long: 25.225; min lat: 15.115 ; max long: 66.709; max lat: 45.583 ;