Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mysteries of Mass Grave Stratigraphy

This past semester at the Park Safari dig we uncovered some more the complexities surrounding the burial composition of the cemetery. This semesters' pit continued off of the pit dug from the previous year. It was during last year's dig that the students and the administrators of the course became well aware of the mass grave dynamic found in the burial composition of this particular grave and potentially of others in the cemetery. Remains of bovids, equids and other creatures alike shared a final resting place in this grave.

This semester’s pit extension led to the recovery of skeletal remains in the topsoil. This could possibly suggest that an initial burial of individuals was followed by a second at some later date, since the bones that were found were from small ungulates and were not articulated with one another. As this year’s team continued to excavate the extension we came across a clay ridge that was initial suspected to mark the edge of the grave, but further excavation showed this not be the case as skeletal remains continued into the clay. This shows that the clay was deposited on top of the carcasses during the burial process.

The mysteries surrounding Park Safari’s burial strategies are beginning to come to the surface as each semester out at the site the students of this class unearth the partial or complete skeletons of former attractions from the park. If its one burial or two the faunal analysis of this years finds will possibly shed a light on the stratigraphic relationship between this years finds and that of last year’s. 

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