The meeting was opened promptly at 1030a.m. under the auspices of Chairman Peter Staples. Four apologies had been offered prior to the meeting and a welcome was extended to new member Michael Jones. The Chairman also congratulated Honorary Life Member Roy Howard on his 88th birthday and appreciation was shown by the audience. John Corby advised members that former member Dave Essam had moved to Beverley and had asked to be remembered.
Today saw a new Speaker for the Forum Dr. Alan Ogden reccommended by our old friend Professor Martin Curzon. A trained Dental Surgeon with 20 years at the Leeds Dental Institute he retrained in archaeology about 15 years ago and is now Honorary Research Fellow at the Biological Anthropology Research Centre at the University of Bradford.
His mantra for this morning’s talk was ” Bringing The Past To Life” which he proceeded to do with his illustrated slides and accounts of the case studies he had worked upon. His interest in this topic and his retraining was sparked by the mass grave at Towton and the Bog Bodies found there. He showed us Tollund Man particularly well preserved to the face with leathrised skin, the bones being not as well preserved. The preservation had been enhanced by the skeleton laying in sphagnum moss. He advised us that in Austria skulls with names and dates of death are stored in ossuaries as body burial is limited to ten years duration. In ancient civilisations such as Egypt and Rome we have a clearer idea of what people looked like and who they were from detailed pictures on Mummy Casks and Statues or Busts.
The essence of Dr. Ogdens work involves examining skulls, cleaning them up, examining them and reporting on there age, gender and what they possibly looked like. Most of the skulls/skeletons came from U.K. sites although sometimes from abroad. He explained how his investigations worked where creamations or mummification were involved and how bone fragments were analysed. Hot, dry conditions (sand) enhanced preservation as did Eygptian methods of embalming and mummification. Conversely in South America cold or freezing conditions helped with the preservation of skeletons and bones. Regular requests from the Police to analyse bones that had been found proved often to be of animals!! He explained to us how sexual determination was arrived at with emphasis on sexual dimorphism and how ageing of the skeleton changes from child to adult. His real area of research has been facial reconstruction and we were taken through some of his case studies including Gristhorpe Man at Scarborough Rotunda Museum in 2008; the Franklin Expedition of 1845; Medieval Chichester Leper and Portmahomack Man, a facial reconstruction of a 5th century Pict. His talk engaged the audience and a number of questions were asked at the close.
The Vote Of Thanks was given by Michael Cochrane on behalf of the 36 attendees.
NEIL RAMSHAW SECRETARY