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Anthropology in Practice

Anthropology in Practice

Exploring the human condition.

Editor's Selections: Crucifixion, Megafauna Extinction, and Coffins

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Ed Note: Part of my online life includes editorial duties at ResearchBlogging.org, where I serve as the Social Sciences Editor. Each Thursday, I pick notable posts on research in anthropology, philosophy, social science, and research to share on the ResearchBlogging.org News site. To help highlight this writing, I also share my selections here on AiP.

There were some interesting death-related posts this week on ResearchBlogging.org:

  • At Powered by Osteons, Kristina Killgrove walks readers through the sole bioarchaeological example of crucifixion that has ever been found. With such sparse evidence, it's hardly surprising that there appears to be some discussion surrounding the find regarding what it can tell us about how the individual was crucified. But perhaps the bigger mystery is why there are so few examples of crucifixion in the archaeological record.

  • Humans have often been blamed for the extinction of the megafauna that roamed the planet prior to the end of the last ice age. At Inkfish, Elizabeth Preston may help relieve us of some of that guilt with a study that aims to get to the bottom of these mass extinctions. In short, we may not have killed off the woolly rhino, but we likely have to answer some questions about the demise of the wild horse population.

  • The coffin you're buried in may not necessarily reflect the life you live. In archaeology, where so much is dependent on the interpretation of what is found, this reminder becomes important in discussions about social equality. Katy Meyers of Bones Don't Lie shares a study that strongly cautions against social judgments based on coffin-type.

I'll be back next week with more from anthropology, philosophy, and research.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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