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Home arrow Health arrow Bodies and Lives in Ancient America: Health Before Columbus
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To sum up

Human remains represent ancient populations in time and space, but there are numerous imprecisions with the kind of scientific work that bioarchaeologists do. Errors are introduced at many different places from how people are buried to how they are excavated hundreds of years later. Yet providing contextual information facilitates looking at moments in time and space where humans were living and dying, and it is here that bioarchaeology provides nuanced snapshots of the living. A delicate balance must be struck in the fact that we are segmenting reality into parts and parcels of time and space, but we do not want to deflect attention away from the big picture. That is what we hope we provided, a bit of a look at the big picture anchored as it were in scientific data gleaned from the human remains. The idea of critical inquiry and research is what science is about, not in memorizing isolated pieces of data. We hope that students and those who are not familiar with bioarchaeology will continue to frame questions and seek answers that open a world of possibilities for how to understand the past and be able to make connections between people in the past and people today. Anthropology is critically positioned to rethink how we approach the study of all humans to better understand behavioral flexibility and cultural resilience in the face of enormous changes such as droughts, warfare, population collapse, and infant deaths, to name a few. Ultimately we hope that students will follow the evidence wherever it leads them and that they will question everything.

 
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