ComSciCon 2015: Let’s Talk About Death!

Written by: Katy Meyers Emery

Primary Source: Bones Don’t Lie

For ComSciCon, we had the option of sharing interesting projects or research related to communicating science. I decided to make a poster about how we can use popular media to create interesting discussions about archaeological work- specifically related to death and funerary rituals.

You can check out my full size poster here: Let’s Talk About Death!


Abstract: Popular media has long sensationalized archaeological discoveries for their own benefit; touting stories of witches, vampires and deviant practices. As anthropologists, it is important that we correct these misconceptions and share the interpretations that led to these sensationalized conclusions; but there is also a lesson that we can learn from this. The public has an intense interest in mortuary archaeology – stories about unusual burial practices and fascinating new cemeteries have captured the public’s attention for hundreds of years. While I don’t suggest we dismiss or exaggerate the evidence to gain attention, we can use the popular appeal for the unusual to open a dialogue with the public and reveal the true nature of the archaeological evidence. In this presentation, I will discuss how we as bloggers can leverage the sensational nature of popular media to engage the public and further real archaeological work that lies behind these unique discoveries, using my blog, Bones Don’t Lie, as a case study. This is especially relevant for mortuary archaeology and studies of the dead, since death is increasingly medicalized and taboo in our Western society. By discussing mortuary archaeology in an accessible and open manner, we open the door for more meaningful dialogues about archaeological evidence and the real behavior that created these unusual mortuary contexts.

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Katy Meyers Emery
Katy is currently a graduate student studying mortuary archaeology at Michigan State University. Her academic interests are in mortuary and bioarchaeology, with a specific interest in connecting the physical remains to the mortuary context. Along with this, she is also interested in Digital Humanities, and the integration of technology into academia, as well as public archaeology and outreach.
Katy Meyers Emery

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