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Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland (Exceptional Social Studies Titles for Intermediate Grades) Library Binding – February 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1140L (What's this?)
  • Series: Exceptional Social Studies Titles for Intermediate Grades
  • Library Binding: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Carolrhoda Books (February 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822571358
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822571353
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 8.2 x 10.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,517 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 6–9—Walker takes readers on an archaeological investigation of human and material remains from 17th- and 18th-century Jamestown and colonial Maryland, while addressing relevant topics in forensic anthropology, history, and archaeology. The excavations encompass burial sites of colonists from various backgrounds, including a teenage indentured servant hastily buried in a trash pit, a grouping of prominent colonists laid to rest in lead coffins, and a woman of African heritage who likely toiled as a slave. Answers concerning the identity and fate of the uncovered remains are realized only after various specialists combine their findings to re-create relevant historical circumstances. In one instance, anthropologists provide anatomical details of a recovered skull to artists, who then use the data to produce the first sculpture of an American colonist of African ancestry. The text succinctly explains complex forensic concepts, such as determining the gender and age of a skeleton, or whether a skull represents a person originating from Europe or Africa. Captioned, full-color photographs of skeletal, dental, and artifactual remains shed light on colonial life. Historical documents, illustrated maps, and anatomical drawings complement images of various specialists at work in the field. Photographs of reenactors performing period tasks, such as grinding corn, provide insight into the daily life of the recovered individuals. Though other recent volumes discuss forensic anthropology, such as James M. Deem's Bodies from the Ice (Houghton, 2008), Written in Bone casts a magnifying glass on the hardships and realities of colonial life so often romanticized in American lore.—Jeff Meyer, Slater Public Library, IA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* This unusual volume, suggested to Walker by a scientist at the Smithsonian Institution, dips into American history to introduce the work of forensic anthropologists. Focusing on colonial-era sites in the Chesapeake Bay region, the large-format book provides detailed discussions and  intriguing close-up views of the grave excavations at Jamestown, Virginia, as well as in three Maryland locations: Providence, St. Mary’s City, and Harleigh Knoll. With precision of her own,Walker describes the meticulous work of the archaeologists and other scientists who study skeletal remains, using physical clues as indicators of a skeleton’s sex, age, birthplace, station in society, and length of time in the colonies. They combine trained observation, background knowledge, and scientific expertise with detective skills to illuminate facets of our history; the final chapter discusses how forensic anthropology has contributed to historians’ understanding of colonial times. Nearly every page carries at least one illustration, usually a color photo but sometimes a helpful diagram, a map, or a period document or print. Back matter includes source notes, a source bibliography, a time line, and lists of recommended books and Internet sites. The reading level is relatively high and the quantity of detailed information is not for everyone, but those intrigued by forensics and history will find this absolutely fascinating. Grades 7-11. --Carolyn Phelan

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Kids who think history is "boring" will probably be riveted by this book.
Dienne
The book is peppered with photographs, sidebars and diagrams that grace almost every page.
D. Fowler
She also offers clear explanations of each forensic technique used and its applications.
D. Ghrist

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Padma Venkatraman on March 30, 2009
Format: Library Binding
Sally Walker brings science to life on the page in every book she's ever written - and this latest one is not only an incredible achievement in terms of her writing prowess, it is also beautifully illustrated. Walker's meticulous research and her amazing ability to explain (in this case the complexities of the science of forensic archeology) are virtually unparalleled.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By D. Fowler TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 11, 2009
Format: Library Binding
Have you ever watched an archaeology dig on the Discovery Channel and thought that it would be something you just might be interested in as a career? If so, you will be fascinated by this book. When we think of archaeology, we mostly tend to think of places like Egypt, but the archaeological digs in this book were conducted right here in the United States. The author, Sally Walker, was fortunate enough to be able to gaze down into the graves of Colonial Americans as they were unearthed. She was standing by the side of Dr. Douglas Owsley, who could often determine the cause of death just by taking a close look at the bones!

Many times when going into the past "archaeologists try to fill in the gaps in the historical record." Owsley, a "leading forensic anthropologist," was an essential member of the Jamestown Rediscovery and other similar projects. In this marvelous book we follow him in his quest to discover our American heritage through bones. He would examine the skeletons "in situ" (in place) before removing them from their graves. In this book we rediscover important men and women like Sir Lionel Copley, the "first royal governor of Maryland," and his wife Anne who were buried in extremely rare lead coffins. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we find a young teen who was buried in a trash pit underneath William Neale's house. Now his bones told the tale of a life of hard labor and from the look of things he may have been murdered. Hmmmm, where's Owsley?

I was utterly entranced by this book. There are numerous "unsolved" mysteries in this book, until Douglas Owsley takes a look that is. The writing is excellent. The book is peppered with photographs, sidebars and diagrams that grace almost every page.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D. Ghrist on May 16, 2009
Format: Library Binding
As an armchair archaeologist, homeschooling mom, and former librarian, this book pushes absolutely all my buttons! The marriage of fantastic photos and diagrams with engaging, intelligent, and accessible text pulls readers into the science of forensic anthropology effortlessly. One of the things I appreciated most is Walker's expert ability to unfold the story of each set of remains and the detective work involved in studying them so that the reader experiences each discovery and step along with the researchers. She also offers clear explanations of each forensic technique used and its applications. It is obvious that she has a passion for her subject and a deep respect for those people whose stories are all but lost to time. By the end of the book, the reader learns a surprising number of forensic techniques, both technological and intellectual. Other books may offer this same information, but few will involve the reader so personally in the subject matter. I only hope I can make it to the Smithsonian to view the exhibit upon which this book is based!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ann C on September 14, 2009
Format: Library Binding
The author does a masterful job of making a technical and possibly ghoulish kind of archaeology accessible to lay and young readers. Though many adults are used to this kind of forensic detective work from TV crime scenes and Patricia Cornwell's heroine, it might not appear so benign to some. I suggest that anyone who is put off by the idea of digging up old skeletons of people buried (some reverently)300 years ago should read the last few pages of the book where these archaeologists reveal a sensitivity to these individuals who lived so long ago. I am blown away by how much can be learned about the lives of our earliest settlers from this kind of forensic examination of their bones. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is going ot visit either Jamestown, VA. or St. Mary's City in MD.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Harris on January 15, 2013
Format: Library Binding Verified Purchase
Bought this to supplement our 5th grade study of the first colonies. I think I'm more engaged than the students! They enjoy the detailed photographs, especially the skeletons, but lack appreciation of the painstaking and fascinating processes these forensic anthropologists execute. The vocabulary is a bit sophisticated - maybe more suited to older students and history buffs.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Heiss on October 24, 2011
Format: Unknown Binding
We have a family of very visual boys, and we get a lot out of the exceptional photography in this book. This book is a profoundly good teaching tool on forensic analysis of human gaves and settlements; in addition, it teaches about Colonial America, and what can be learned from ongoing excavations.

Things that your family will learn about:

+soil staining
+why skeletons buried in clay soil deteriorate
+why skeletons buried in sandy soil are better preserved
+how and why bones and artifacts are examined in situ
+how scientists can determine the age of the deceased through bones, teeth, skulls
+how scientists can determine male or female, diet, national origin
+how can you detect tooth decay after 400 years? what do infected teeth look like?
+how copper discolors bone and soil
+how a hasty basement burial may indicate mistreatment of one deceased colonist
+how does heavy manual labor manifest itself in the bones?
+how does rickets manifest itself in the bones?
+how do scientists use ground penetrating radar? What can it show, and what can it not?
+when and why do scientitsts make guesses, and how do they confirm their hypotheses?
+how can scientists and artists work together to reconstruct a person's face, using a skull found in a grave?

This book, with its extraordinary photography and in-depth, careful scientific explanations, makes for compelling reading.

If your family enjoys this type of book, consider reading "Phineas Gage" by John Fleischman.
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