Biological Anthropology
How the female Viking warrior was written out of history
What Bj 581, the “Female Viking Warrior” tells us about assumed gender roles in archaeological inquiry.
By Holly Norton

While the popular story has been about a female warrior, the real story that underlies this study are the assumptions the researchers just blew out of the water. Hedenstierna-Jonson et al. do not equivocate in their statements that, for over a century, this individual was mis-identified as male because archaeologists, acculturated in a western society with strictly defined gender roles, view men alone as warriors, or soldiers, or wielders of violence. A warrior, like warfare itself, is a cultural construct, practices and professions created by human societies to fulfill specific desires. To assume uncritically that men alone are warriors leads to a cascade of other assumptions about human behaviors that renders our attempt to understand those behaviors somewhat moot.


Non Metric Traits

Non-metric traits, also known as discrete traits, discontinuous morphological traits, or epigenetic variants, are a part of normal human variation and are not pathological in nature. As the name suggests, it is thought that they have some sort of genetic basis. They are usually recorded as either “present” or “absent,” or they can be scored on a continuous scale. Their very nature means that they can’t often be quantified, though they can be used in conjunction with other things for identification of an individual or for population studies.

Often subdivided into cranial, dental, and postcranial traits, they can be extra bones, articular differences, variations in the number of foramina, extra ossification of a particular feature, or ossification failure.

Non-metric traits include Wormian bones (top), sternal foramina (2nd row left), metopic sutures which persist into adulthood (2nd row right), calcaneal notches (bottom), third trochanters of the femur, and vertebral number shifts, among other things. Dental metric traits in particular, such as shoveled incisors or differing cusp numbers, can be used to guess population affinity.


Buikstra, J.E. & Ubelaker. D.H. (eds) 1994, Standards for Data Collection from Human Skeletal Remains: Proceedings of a Seminar at the Museum of Natural History, Arkansas Archaeological Survey Research Series, No. 44. Fayetteville, Arkansas.

White, Tim D. & Folkens, P.A. 2005, The Human Bone Manual. Elsevier Academic Press.Burlington, MA

Image Source:

The Museum of London: Center for Human Bioarchaeology Database of Photographs: <>
Is That Skeleton Gay? The Problem With Projecting Modern Ideas Onto The Past
This week represents two bookends to my foray into scholarly public outreach: new reports of "gay lovers" from Pompeii casts and the six year anniversary of the hubbub over the "gay caveman" skeleton. These and other similar skeletons represent both a desire to better understand our collective human past and a curious need to project our current cultural baggage backwards.

I used to be such a snob about things like this. Once I started teaching kids, though, it became easier for me to accept that people aren’t born knowing things that I take for granted. Now that I teach an introductory bioanth course, one joy I get is seeing people learn something amazing for the first time. If we had better science education and communication, people wouldn’t have to wait till college to be part of it!

Terribly sorry, once again, for letting my queue lapse. My semester - and my degree! - are winding down, but I’ve got many miles before I sleep between my two classes, my thesis, job searching, yet I still keep volunteering for stuff.

In fun news though, I will be at the American Association of Physical Anthropologists meetings and the MARCH FOR SCIENCE in New Orleans!

These skeletons were recovered from a Roman graveyard in Guildhall, York, England. They had all been decapitated, and their heads were buried with them. It is unknown why these men were decapitated, but it is suspected that they were gladiators or criminals.

You: we shouldn’t care about weaker members of our species, because only the strong survive

Me, an intellectual: hominids have been caring for each other since at least the days of neanderthals, as evidenced by the presence of the sick and elderly in burial populations of the time period, including specimens with such extreme stages of arthritis that they likely depended on other members of the family to get around, and yet they were treated with dignity and respect

We cannot be top country if we let science and education be run by people who think the dinosaurs drowned in Noah’s flood.
—  Katha Pollitt
ID #96784

Name: Ben
Age: 24
Country: USA

Hey everyone!

I am a graduate student in biological anthropology and infectious disease epidemiology. I like all kinds of music - especially atl. rock, EDM, folk/indie music. I also enjoy reading queer YA adult literature (it allows me to take a break from the academic stuff), anarchist texts, and anything in a different language. - Oh I speak 7 languages.

Preferences: My only preference would be having someone my age, or anyone above 18 really.