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Written in Bone: Bone Biographer's Casebook

Written in Bone: Bone Biographer's Casebook,
This book offers a unique view of the study of human skeletons—one part science and art; one part research and history. Douglas Owsley and Karin Bruwelheide, forensic anthropologists at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, have been studying the bones of historic and contemporary populations for nearly two decades. Over 150 archival photographs never before released from the forensic files of the Museum illustrate the variety their casework and help tell the stories revealed in bone.
Published by LeanTo Press.

Living Our Cultures Sharing Our HeritageLiving Our Cultures, Sharing Our Heritage: The First Peoples of Alaska,(edited by Aron L. Crowell, Rosita Worl, Paul C. Ongtooguk, and Dawn D. Biddison, 2010) features more than 200 objects representing the masterful artistry and design traditions of twenty Alaska Native peoples. Based on a collaborative exhibition created by Alaska Native communities, the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, and the Anchorage Museum, this richly illustrated volume celebrates both the long-awaited return of ancestral treasures to their northern homeland and the diverse cultures in which they were created. Accompanied by traditional stories and personal accounts by Alaska Native elders, artists, and scholars, each piece featured in Living Our Cultures, Sharing Our Heritage evokes both historical and contemporary meaning, and breathes the life of its people.

Anthropology Explored Book Cover

Anthropology Explored: The Best of Smithsonian AnthroNotes (Revised and Expanded), edited by Ruth O. Selig, Marilyn R. London and P. Ann Kaupp, 2004. Anthropology Explored is a collection of 36 essays written in a light and easy-to-read style by some of the world's leading anthropologists, who explore fundamental questions humans ask about themselves as individuals, as societies, and as a species. Conveying the field's richness and breadth, contributors trace the emergence of humans from other primates, describe archaeologists' understanding of early and more recent settlements, and explore the diversity of present and past cultures. Illustrated with amusing insightful cartoons drawn by anthropologist Robert L. Humphrey, the essays trace not only culture changes but also changes in anthropologists' perspectives during the 150-year history of the field.

The Handbook of North American Indian William C. Sturtevant, General Editor. An encyclopedia summarizing knowledge about all Native peoples north of Mesoamerica, including cultures, languages, history, prehistory, and human biology, is a standard reference work for anthropologists, historians, students, and the general reader. Leading authorities have contributed chapters to each volume. Area volumes include separate chapters on all tribes. This heavily illustrated work contains extensive bibliographies and is well indexed.

Smithsonian at the Poles: Contributions to International Polar Year Science (Igor Krupnik, Michael Lang, and Scott Miller, eds., 2009, Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, 406 pp.) is a collection of 31 papers from an interdisciplinary symposium under the same title hosted at NMNH on May 3-4, 2007. It became the first issue in the recently reconstituted Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge series and the first major contribution by the Smithsonian to the International Polar Year 2007–2008 program. The volume displays the variety of the Smithsonian polar research, in both the Arctic and Antarctica, that encompasses physical, natural, and social sciences, and the humanities. Many articles cover the precious Smithsonian collections from the polar regions. Seven papers in the volume have been authored by staff members and associates of the Department of Anthropology’s Arctic Studies Center (ASC): Bill Fitzhugh, Aron Crowell, Noel Broadbent, Stephen Loring, Igor Krupnik, Ann Fienup-Riordan, and Ernset S. Burch, Jr.

Houchins book cover

An Ethnography of the Hermit Kingdom: The J. B. Bernadou Korean Collection 1884–1885, by Chang-su Cho Houchins. Introduction by Paul Michael Taylor. In 1884, Smithsonian Secretary Spencer Baird appointed J. B. Bernadou, a naval officer, to gather a collection of material culture from the Hermit Kingdom, which had been closed to outsiders until 1882. Baird gave Bernadou the official title of "Smithsonian Attaché" to the American Legation. Richly illustrated with beautiful color photographs, the catalogue will interest art-, social-, and diplomatic-historians; anthropologists; linguists; students of Korean culture; and all those who appreciate the aesthetic quality of these objects, and the stories they tell.

Mayan Hearts book cover

Mayan Hearts and Diccionario del corazón, by Robert M. Laughlin, with woodcuts by Naúl Ojeda. A selection of nineteen heart metaphors from a 16th century dictionary of the Tzotzil Maya language of Zinacantán, Chiapas, Mexico, presents a Mayan romance; a story of love besieged and, finally, love triumphant. Some metaphors seem to express a shared view of the world: perfume your heart for "to please." But others are totally unexpected, contradictory to the way the compiler, a Dominican friar, viewed the world, as, my heart aches for "to fall in love," The magic realism of Ojeda in woodcuts, and pieces of woodcuts, in bold black and red "have the virtue of refreshing and recodifying the old metaphors." This handmade book, with silk-screen images and a black cover of maguey fiber boiled with mistletoe to reduce the shedding of the fibers, is pierced to show a red heart.

The Canela Book Cover

The Canela: Kinship, Ritual and Sex in an Amazonian Tribe, by William H. Crocker and Jean G. Crocker. This case study traces changes to Canela society through time and presents Canela perspectives on their society through their own written diaries. The reader is introduced to the Canela through an account of Bill Crocker's arrival in the tribe. This is followed by a brief history of the Canela that shows how their kinship system holds their society together, and how their unusual sex practices create satisfying social bonds. The case study also shows how the practice of rituals affirms the group way of life for the individual. The case study examines contemporary influences on the Canela and concludes with an epilogue on their future adaptation to Brazilian life.

Ortner Book Cover

Identification of Pathological Conditions in Human Skeletal Remains, Second Edition, by Donald J. Ortner, provides an integrated and comprehensive treatment of pathological conditions that affect the human skeleton. There is much that ancient skeletal remains can reveal to the modern orthopaedist, pathologist, forensic anthropologist, and radiologist about the skeletal manifestations of diseases that are rarely encountered in modern medical practice. Beautifully illustrated with over 1,100 photographs and drawings, this book provides essential text and materials on bone pathology, which will improve the diagnostic ability of those interested in human dry bone pathology. It also provides time depth to our understanding of the effect of disease on past human populations.

Silver Horn Book Cover

Silver Horn: Master Illustrator of the Kiowas, by Candace S. Greene. Working in graphite, colored pencil, crayon, pen and ink, and watercolor on hide, muslin, and paper, Silver Horn produced more than one thousand illustrations between 1870 and 1920. Silver Horn created an unparalleled visual record of Kiowa culture, from traditional images of warfare and coup counting to sensitive depictions of the sun dance, early Peyote religion, and domestic daily life. In this presentation of Silver Horn's work, showcasing 43 color and 116 black-and-white illustrations, Greene provides a thorough biographical portrait of the artist and, through his work, assesses the concepts and roles of artists in Kiowa culture.

Pott's Book Cover

Humanity's Descent: The Consequences of Ecological Instability, by Richard Potts. "How has the ebb and flow of the environment affected the evolution of humans, and how has the path of our evolution affected our attitude toward nature? Potts ... offers some provocative ideas in a wide-ranging, recondite study. To understand "how the kiln of evolution forged our apparent domination,'' he argues that we must pay more attention to the history of environmental change. This is not a recycled version of the old brand of environmental determinism, which argued that nature had crafted every facet of humanity. Instead, it is a theory attempting to frame humans within the context of an environment that is not static, in which the flux of nature elicits creative responses." — Kirkus Reviews


Other Publications

When he's not at a notorious disaster, Doug Owsley is entering tombs and crypts, unwrapping mummies, or climbing into caves to unlock the secrets of bones. In No Bone Unturned, investigative journalist Jeff Benedict not only unveils a compelling portrait of the man behind America's most notorious cases but also gives us a fascinating look inside the world of forensic science as seen through the eyes of a leading specialist. Doug Owsley has worked with America's historic skeletons, from colonial Jamestown burials to Plains Indians to Civil War soldiers to skeletons tens of thousands of years old. That includes the Kennewick Man, a 9,600-year-old human skeleton found in shallow water along the banks of Washington State's Columbia River.

Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology: List of Publications


Research Articles

Cannibalism Revealed Among 17th-Century Jamestown Settlers, a forensic analysis of 17th-century human remains proves that survival cannibalism took place in historic Jamestown, Virginia. (July 2013)

The Truth about Crystal Skulls
Handmade by ancient Aztecs? The work of supernatural powers? Or carefully crafted fakes? After decades of mystery, the real nature of crystal skulls is finally clear, thanks to scientists using modern technology to determine how they were made. (2008)

The Identity of Red Thunder Cloud, by Ives Goddard (April 2000)

The Robert J. Terry Anatomical Skeletal Collection, by David R. Hunt.


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