Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland

Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland

by Sally M. Walker

Hardcover(Library Binding)

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Bright white teeth. Straight leg bones. Awkwardly contorted arm bones. On a hot summer day in 2005, Dr. Douglas Owsley of the Smithsonian Institution peered into an excavated grave, carefully examining the fragile skeleton that had been buried there for four hundred years. "He was about fifteen years old when he died. And he was European," Owsley concluded. But how did he know? Just as forensic scientists use their knowledge of human remains to help solve crimes, they use similar skills to solve the mysteries of the long-ago past. Join author Sally M. Walker as she works alongside the scientists investigating colonial-era graves near Jamestown, Virginia, as well as other sites in Maryland. As you follow their investigations, she'll introduce you to what scientists believe are the lives of a teenage boy, a ship's captain, an indentured servant, a colonial official and his family, and an enslaved African girl. All are reaching beyond the grave to tell us their stories, which are written in bone.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822571353
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/01/2009
Series: Exceptional Social Studies Titles for Intermediate Grades Series
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 77,340
Product dimensions: 8.30(w) x 10.60(h) x 0.60(d)
Lexile: NC1140L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 - 13 Years

About the Author

Sally M. Walker has been a children's book writer for over 20 years. Most of her books are nonfiction and present various science topics to young readers. Fossil Fish Found Alive is the story of the hunt for the elusive fish called the coelacanth. Sally also enjoys combining science investigation with historical topics. Her book Secrets of a Civil War Submarine, which won the 2006 Robert F. Sibert Medal, tells about the history, loss, and re-discovery of the first submarine to sink an enemy ship in battle. Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland takes readers on archaeological expeditions, where the forensic analysis of colonial settlers' bones helps us to understand their lives. Sally especially enjoys writing narrative nonfiction that captures the reader's attention with a true story. She is also the author of 2019 Orbis Pictus Honor Book Champion: The Comeback Tale of the American Chestnut.

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Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
ImBookingIt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Listening to this book was so cool!I've been a fan of fictional forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan since long before the TV show Bones. I like what she's able to do with contemporary bodies, but I'm always interested in the asides about her ventures with older, more historic graves.This book goes into many of the details of this process, using some bodies from colonial Jamestown.The book goes into details of isotopes, of bone measurements, and of soil composition. It then takes this information as well as details as to how the body is positioned, and what is found nearby, and builds a portrait of the life of this individual. An attempt is made to match this portrait to the historical record, trying to identify who has been located.The audience clearly is middle grade, but the information isn't so simplified as to be uninteresting. The age of the intended audience is clear when the narrator gives a brief explanation of negative numbers, but it usually is fairly universal.I came at this book interested in the scientific aspect, but the historical viewpoint also grabbed me. While listening, I kept thinking of the opportunities for a classroom unit featuring a truly integrated curriculum. I'm going to suggest it to the 5th grade teachers at my daughter's school, since they cover Colonial America as well as basic human anatomy that year.
59Square on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is being mentioned for a possible award come January, and I definitely think it would make an excellent Siebert Award candidate. This book examines colonial America through the eyes of archaelogists and forensic archaelogists and sees what we can deduce about colonial America. There are some really interesting things that they can discover about colonial Americans, including how they worked, what kind of work they did, and quite often how they died. Walker also goes through the whole process of a dig and how things are unearthed - very interesting and well-written. What I also like about the book is that the captions of the photos and charts sort of serve as an indicator of what's on that page - more than usual - so that kids skimming the book can stop and read more about something that might interest them. Very complete and absorbing.
herbcat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Amazing work in showing how archeology works in uncovering hidden truths about the past.
Megabaker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The information in this book is fascinating: part history, part science, part mystery, but what really makes the book is the pictures (none are too gruesome for me, and I can be pretty squeamish). It's labeled as a young adult book, but certainly appeals to adults. I saw the Smithsonian exhibit, but was even more fascinated by this book.
mdyewhea on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I left William and Mary in 1994 (close to this area), and missed the dig! However, I was fascinated with what has been uncovered since then. Jamestown used to just be kind of boring, but it isn't now! A great book for budding archeologists, or for people interested in this area of the country.
EdGoldberg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Written in Bone: Burried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland by Sally M. Walker is a great book if you're interested in old bones, history, forensics and mysteries. The book contains glossy pages and photos interspersed amongst the print. The language is simple and straight-forward. Scientific concepts are explained in easy to understand terms. And the mysteries are engaging.It is amazing what you can learn from where graves are discovered (inside the fort or church, or outside), the position of the bones (carefully laid out for a man of stature vs. tossed in the grave for an abused indentured servant), what is included in the grave, etc. Forensic scientists can look at bones to see whether they were broken and if so before or after death and how long before death. The bone structure and fusing can help determine age. The study of isotopes can help determine how long the deceased was in America vs. England.The scientists take what they have discovered and try to relate it to the written record to determine whose body it is. Since colonial America was relatively sparsely inhabited, it is easier to review records to determine whose body it might be.
silly_tine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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. In the back there is a timeline, a bibliography and additional recommended books and websites. In one of these graves even the archaeologists were shocked to see who was in there. As they say, "expect the unexpected," but I would say you can expect to love this book!
farfromkansas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Because my wife and I are big fans of the TV show Bones, I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled across Sally M. Walker¿s Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland in the ¿science¿ section of my library. Like Bones, Walker¿s book deals with forensic anthropology: the scientific process of examining skeletons for clues and evidence. In fact, much of Walker¿s book follows the same procedures utilized in every episode of Bones, ranging from soil samples to skeletal examinations to artistic recreations of the deceased. Although Written in Bone lacks the wit, drama, and action of its television counterpart, it nonetheless provides an interesting glimpse into the world of forensic anthropology.Walker begins her book with some brief background knowledge about the Jamestown settlement that is the setting for this study. After briefly giving some historical context of the settlers, she discusses archaeological methods for digging at sites and the need for preservation. As she moves through the book, Walker introduces a variety of methods for the process of scientific inquiry: studying historical documents, conducting interviews, examining local architecture, and using technology to meld science with history. The widespread incorporation of so much science tends to drive this book towards a target audience of high school students, most of whom will have a greater grasp on science and history. Additionally, because Walker¿s writing can be somewhat complex at times, younger readers might have some difficulty following along with her book. Plus, some maturity is required to study dead bodies in so much depth and detail: older audiences might be a little less likely to have nightmares.In order to frame her story, Walker discusses several key corpses discovered in the excavations of colonial Virginia and Maryland. Walker¿s use of specific case studies is a clever way of introducing a variety of scientific methods to the reader: with each successive skeleton, Walker introduces stable isotope analysis (for carbon-dating), ground-penetrating radar, soil samples, dental fossils, and facial reconstructions. With this wide range of scientific methods incorporated into the narrative, Written in Bone can feel a little intimidating at times because it illustrates just how much knowledge and expertise is required to carry out an archaeological dig (such as the one described in the book). If nothing else, Written in Bone reinforces the idea that most scientific inquiry requires a team of scientists and specialists to make progress on a case.Although the premise of the book is absolutely fascinating, I started to lose interest towards the end of the book: suddenly, the novelty factor wasn¿t quite as captivating as it was a hundred pages earlier. Of course, this might also be a reflection of my personal lack of interest in science, as opposed to the quality of Walker¿s book; on the contrary, the fact that Walker managed to keep my attention for so long is a testament to her intriguing narrative. In the end, Walker reminds us that the skeletal remains discovered are all that¿s left of people¿s lives: ¿These tales, written only in bone, await those with the patience to find them¿ (134). Because of her book, Walker will undoubtedly inspire many to pursue further studies in forensic anthropology and discover more stories that remain buried¿ for the time being.
janiereader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Walker, Sally M. Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland. Carolrhoda Books. 144p. illus. bibliographical references. index. ISBN 978-0-82257-135-3. $22.95.Walker¿s title is an engaging read, based on findings from archeological excavations in James Fort, built in 1610 as the military setting of the Jamestown Settlement. Walker writes of recent excavations of bodies and artifacts creating an interesting book written on a level to be understandable to those unfamiliar with anthropology. Lots of fascinating facts about the how and whys of how people lived, ate, and worked in the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as the science of how fossils and relics are dated to certain time periods and eras. Brilliant color photographs add to the quality of this recommended read for those interested in not only forensic antropology, but also about life in the early colony. A possible companion piece to Jamestown: The Buried Truth, by William M. Kelso with its creative photos and data will round out the reader¿s experience as a quasi-field trip to the actual historic site. Recommened for teens and adults, this book will catch the interest of many, especially those who like forensic science shows such as CSI and Bones.