Re: Early Amerind assimilation (Was: Re: Romans in the New World?)

Mary Beth Williams (
5 Aug 1996 10:36:34 GMT

In <Dvn6s7.GH8@CritPath.Org> aawest@CritPath.Org (Anthony West) writes:

>>Anthony West (aawest@CritPath.Org) wrote:

>She has made a claim that there is a virtual
>absence of meaningfully studied human remains
>within the Afro/Euro communities of the colonial
>period. I find her professional notes most
>interesting but would suggest a second opinion,
>as in my casual and unprofessional experience
>I have seen reports of professionally handled
>digs from that period which appeared to include
>human remains.

Just because a dig is *professionally* handled DOES NOT mean that the
physical remains were suitably analyzed by physical anthropologists,
particularly in relation to the information that you seek. Moreover,
I've had it beaten into my brain by my bioarchy mentors (Charles and
Buikstra) that you cannot rely upon other peoples analyses of remains
when carrying out this kind of research, as then you're dealing with a
haphazard array of interpretations, methods, and technologies. I've
worked on two sites where my analyses of the physical remains paint a
very different picture from the preceding researcher (in one case, the
remains were not even cleaned.) Hence, it becomes very important for
the physical anthropologist to have direct access to the remains in
question. THAT is why I have made such a fuss over the availability of
European/African remains, which, unlike Native American remains, are
seldom left on institutional shelves for future anthropologists to

MB Williams
Dept. of Anthro., UMass-Amherst

MB Williams