The academic presentation on the funeral practice of Iroquoian by Canadian bio-archaeologist in Institute of Archaeology,CASS
On June 1st of 2012 Doctor Deborah C. Merrett from the Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University(SFU) gave an academic report in the Institute of Archaeology, CASS.
Professor Yuan Jing from the Center of Scientific Archaeology, Institute of Archaeology, CASS first gave an introduction of the general information of the Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University and Doctor Deborah C. Merrett.
Doctor Deborah C. Merrett’s research is mainly focused on the ancient pathology, the micro-structure of teeth and the method of age determination of individual bone from children and the health condition in order to explore the impact of the rise of agriculture on human health.
In this research report Doctor Deborah C. Merrett introduced one case study of her research at the site of Moatfield dating to 700 BP. Moatfield Site is the first Iroquoian’s site permitted by the indigenous Iroquoian. According to the record of the French missionaries Iroquoian in Canada have a sedentary life. They hunted local wild animal populations and live on the slash-and-burn method of corn farming. They usually moved to a new village and have the custom of secondary burial just before village relocation every 25 to 30 years. In 1997 archaeologists excavated Moatfield Site and discovered one pit containing human skeleton which could be related to Iroquoian’s secondary reburial.
The pit consists of 14 layers of human bones including 87 individuals. Most of them are adults and only six individuals are babies. The analysis of Carbon 13 reveals that the diet of the population at Moatfield is mainly the C4 food which means corn might have been introduced in the south region of Ontario in Canada. The analysis of ancient pathology indicates that the modification of human bones includes trauma, skull perforation, Osteomyelites, Maxillary Sinusitis, Oral disease such as abscessing, possible tuberculosis, cribra orbitalia etc which is correspondent with the custom and habit of the Iroquoian recorded by the French missionaries.
The archaeologists also analyzed the spatial distribution of human bones in the pit with 3D technology and argued that there is no substantial evidence of intentional mixture of human bones in the pit in the record of the missionaries.
The research result of this site is the combination of archaeologists and biologists together and laid a good foundation of the interdisciplinary collaboration.
After the Deborah C. Merrett’s presentation the audience including the research staff of Institute of Archaeology and graduate students had a hot discussion and comprehensive communication with Doctor Merrett. Professor Yuan Jing gave a conclusive talk and suggests regular academic communication like this presentation should go on in future. (Translator: Li Zhipeng)