Stories of the Dead
How analytical chemistry refines life after death.
Matthew Hallam, Lana Brockbals, Pier Paolo Petrone, Cristina Barrocas Dias | | Longer Read
The history of our planet is both fascinating and complex, and humans are gifted with the ability to form a picture of its past by piecing together the evidence left behind by our predecessors. The clues take many forms, from galleons resting on the ocean bed to citadels standing high in the mountains and timeless relics proudly displayed in museums. Perhaps more informative than any of these (or all of them combined), however, are the human remains scattered across the globe.
The remains of ancient humans have ignited our imaginations for millennia, giving us a teasing taste of lives radically different to our own. Yet, it is only in the past century or so that we have developed the scientific means to delve deeper into the lives of our ancestors, from Neanderthals stalking their prey on the ancient planes of Europe to mass sacrifice atop the Aztec pyramids.
In honor of the ever-expanding role of analytical chemistry in archeological contexts, we decided to dig into three studies that underscore the capabilities of today’s techniques – and shine a light on the researchers deciphering the stories of the dead.
Welcome to the world’s first (probably) scientifically sound séance...
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