Australia, forensics

Forensic Archaeology

Circa October last year I caught wind of the words “forensic archaeologist” for the first time.

Toy skeleton. Image credit:

Whew! It’s a unique and exciting combination of words because it’s as if the mystery, adventure and thriller genres from Hollywood all got smashed together into a job title.

Turns out, this job hardly exists anywhere in Australia. Boo! This is also to the lament of Dr. Soren Blau, the archaeologist who runs the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, Melbourne. Here’s a paper she wrote about it.

So we, Down Under, are not exactly swimming in opportunities, but it was fun to explore. I got really into finding old issues of AFAAN (Australian Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology Newsletter), which was published by them.

Below is a copy from 2019 which I found from the inter-webs, which also includes an interview with a gentleman who became a forensic archaeologist when the Australian Special Investigations Unit asked a pathologist to check on some long-dead people, and the pathologist hand-balled it – the result was Emeritus Professor Richard Wright discovered and exhumed from some mass graves in Ukraine c. 1990. You can read the story for yourself below. (Please be warned, there are images of human remains on the newsletter).

I also discovered that there is a podcast called the Forensic Anthropology Companion Podcast, where really smart people who look at the science of determining the cause of death discuss their research. Episodes come up as the first result if you look on Google.

At some universities, students can study archaeology and forensics concurrently.

Perhaps later on they can be employed at places like AFTER, which is short for the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research, in Sydney. I’ve written about funny acronyms before and this one is just splendid.

Here’s a slightly older ABC news article about a discovery they made that apparently we move around a lot just after we die, eeek:

I suppose in a way, it’s a good thing that the job opportunities are about as ubiquitous as bird’s teeth, as the implications are that homicides are on the less frequent side. Still, I bet if such a TV series about such a person in this role was released, a good number of watchers would tune in. I probably would if I had the time (see below)

Other stuff going on:

• Work is bit of a wild ride on a untamed bucking mare in a hailstorm right now – multiple colleagues have caught COVID, multiple computers keep breaking, and I am basically here running damage control. (There’s a strange sort of thrill in managing crises, but wish this didn’t cut into me-time, which includes blogging time.)

• As mentioned in another post, I have been gearing for a science exam. This has involved lots of maths too. I’ve been using search engines to look up equations so much that an unusual page came up – Google literally paused and asked me if I was a bot:

This came up instead of the search results. Next-level nerd status unlocked?

Turns out Alphabet is on the alert for a Westworld-like uprising, who knew?

I hope all you lovely readers are well. How are things? Have you heard of forensic archaeologists before? Or been accused of being a robot? Anyone have recommendations for good crime-related shows?

news, world

A Snowman from Ukraine in Peacetime

I woke up this morning filled with stress from the night before, and surprised to find my eyes were leaking as I read about world events.

It is so senseless.

A close friend of mine lives in Ukraine. I can’t overstate how surreal it is to be reading and hearing about these events, or thinking of the innocent people involved, or the worry.

The internet is a wonderful thing, and has shrunk down to seconds and minutes the kind of information that once took traditional pen pals months or years to divulge. It is because of this friend that I know some Russian phrases. To me this further highlights how ridiculous war is – both nations are home to people who have friends, relatives and ties to the other.

My WordPress Reader seems oddly divorced from the sombre tone of the world news – people are still posting about ordinary things. I suppose blogging is not like other social media, and people’s websites have their own dedicated topics. Or perhaps we come here to escape.

Well, this blog is about history, and our place in the the world as humans. I had another post about other things with stacks of photos lined up, but just don’t have the heart to be writing about that or anything else.

Here is a snow friend, frozen in peacetime, from Ukraine, thirteen months ago when none of this was happening. I post this in fervent hopes that peacetime comes to Ukraine again very, very soon.

A cool buddy made by my friend, Odessa, Ukraine. 29th January 2021. Posted with permission.

Слава Украине.