We’ve been asked this question several times over the last week or so. Why? The University of Bradford has been in the news with an archives project that is fascinating journalists, academics, and members of the public. The project, ‘Putting Flesh on the Bones‘, is a Wellcome-funded joint endeavour between Special Collections the School of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences at the University of Bradford.
We are investigating the life and work of, yes, a palaeopathologist, Dr Calvin Wells. A palaeopathologist is a scientist who studies ancient pathologies (injuries, disease). Dr Wells was a pioneer in this discipline, reporting on skeletal finds from many archaeological sites. The people whose remains he studied led often difficult, violent and painful lives – all shown in the growth of and damage to the bones.
Coverage so far includes:
- The Bone Collector, by Maev Kennedy. The Guardian, 11 August 2017. The comments highlight some of the issues that this archive raises and which we hope to explore further.
- Interview with Project Archivist James Neill on BCB radio (about 45 minutes in).
- University of Bradford given £140,000 grant to record work of top scientist Calvin Wells, by Chris Young. Telegraph and Argus, 15 August 2017.
There will be much more to discover as we delve deeper into this rich archive. Keep in touch with project developments via the project blog.
Our Archaeological Sciences colleagues are expert palaeopathologists, using old and new techniques to unlock the secrets of the bones. Which brings me to the pleasant task of welcoming a new colleague, our Project Osteologist, Michelle Williams-Ward. Michelle is working on burials in medieval Norfolk for her PhD student at the University. Her project role involves making sense of the many images of bones in the archive. This requires considerable expertise. Michelle’s insights have already proved most helpful!