History & Archaeology Personal Notes

The Love and Hate of Taphonomy

Dee, 2013
If I should blame Ivan Efremov for coining that term of taphonomy, I would. But I couldn’t, considering how taphonomy plays ALL ROLES on archaeology. Then, there’s this Henri Duday whom I should be thankful (not sarcastically —) for l’archéologie de terrain (go here to read about it)that he somehow ‘invented’ to draw attention of bioarchaeologists to a more holistic approach of archaeothanatology. You must have think that I am a smart-ass by using all these foreign terms. Well, first of all, you’re correct: I am a smart-ass. It’s so smart I can’t even sit on it. LOL.
I met Duday’s methods during my thesis writing, eons ago, and I LOVE IT! I love calculating the Anatomical Preservation Indices and I was so happy to find that those actually worked on SPSS as well. LOL. Bless the handsome guy who taught me statistics. *amen* You just have to simply read Duday, H, (2006) L’archéologie ou l’archeologie de la mort (translated and published within this book) and then be done with the whole concept. Yep, ’tis in French, and I was lucky that I got an angel in form of a Canadian friend – since my broken-in-pieces French won’t help at all.
Okay, so – eons later, I found myself struggling with a more complicated case of archaeothanatology in the cave of Harimau, Padang Bindu, that drives me insane, curled up my hair, and made me scratch myself. At times, I thought that the real challenge is when a case is put into a very dynamic, yet rapidly changing environment like the ring of fire. Meh. I am starting to talk gibberish now. Whatever happened in Harimau made it difficult for me to distinguish leper, TB, syphilis, OR simply taphonomic changes. [oh KILL ME NOW!] But I can’t say no to this cave, as I have fallen in love with it, since day one.
Somehow, I want to look away and put taphonomy down – and focusing on life expectancy rates within its community. But, in the middle of doing palaeodemography, my brain churns into those thoughts of taphonomy. Then I realise: I have a love and hate relationship with taphonomy. Again, this is not a closed case, yet. If every year Harimau gave me new skeletons to work with and I still cannot crack the taphonomical codes hidden within it, I’m dead.
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