Sunday, September 26, 2010

Written in Bone exhibit at American Museum of Natural History

Last Fall, I read and reviewed Sally M. Walker's Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland.  This is a book about the discovery of bones and artifacts from Colonial Jamestown, VA and Colonial Maryland. In that review, I said, "What makes this book exceptional are the stories it tells along the way. Not only do we learn more about the actual skeletons that were uncovered, but we learn about the way of life that was often brutal and even deadly during this period."

I also mentioned that I had visited the exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. before reading the book. I just revisited the exhibit after having read the book again, and this time, it was absolutely amazing.

Coming face-to-face with the lead coffins found buried under the church floor and seeing actual skeletons of the people who were found was a great experience.

Lead coffins discovered under church in MD.

Many of the displays were presented as "forensic case files," allowing visitors see how these cases were investigated and solved. There's even a hands-on lab that lets visitors become scientists.

Artifacts found during the excavations were also on display, and life-sized replications of some of the individuals found and forensic facial reconstructions really make you realize that the bones in the cases were real humans who lived fascinating, often brutal lives centuries ago.

Even if you haven't read the book, I recommend visiting the exhibit, but if you have the opportunity to read the book before you visit, it makes for a richer experience.

Video about the exhibit:

1 comment:

  1. Do you have more about the American museum of natural history? it would be nice!