The Archaeology of Witchcraft in England: An Examination of a Dark History Through Five Objects

The Historical Background of English Witchcraft Witchcraft has a long, complicated history in England. In comparison to other countries, the hysteria surrounding witchcraft came quite late to England, but prior to the 16th century it was still considered a punishable offence. The Inquisition never had a huge amount of success in English Society as there […]

Museums and Human Remains: Repatriation, Display, and Storage.

Human remains collections in British Museums over the last 200-300 years have been an important aspect of cultural heritage, however, there have been ethical dilemmas surrounding their curation and display for several reasons. Issues arise particularly in relation to public sensitivities, ethics, and the way in which the human remains acquired i.e. was there consent […]

Embalming: A Help or Hindrance to Grief? A Personal and Professional Experience

Whilst many European countries do not feel the need to embalm their dead, Ireland is not one of them. Growing up in rural Catholic Ireland, I was exposed to the deceased bodies of loved ones from a very young age as it is tradition for us to ‘wake’ our dead at home. I was eight […]

The Depiction of Embalming in Art: From Pharaohs to Presidents.

Embalming has been carried out for thousands of years by different cultures all over the world. An array of techniques concerning the practice have been described by scholars and doctors from each of these time periods, but selection of artists have depicted this practice as well. Embalming cannot be called a common subject matter in […]

The Embalming of Maria Van Butchell by William Hunter and William Cruickshank, 1775.

I recently read Kate Lister’s fantastic book ‘The Curious History of Sex’. In one of the chapters entitled ‘Boy’s Toys: The History of the Sex Doll’, I was struck by the story of Maria Van Butchell. She was embalmed by her husband, Martin Van Butchell, in 1775 for the purposes of public display. For this […]

The Archaeology of Brain Injury: Examples of Cases and Understanding from the Archaeological and Historical Record.

Examples of cases and understanding of brain injury are scattered all over the archaeological and historical record. Despite the fact brain injury is recorded as far back as 1600 BC, treatment for the condition is still limited and underfunded in medical settings today. My mother suffered from an acquired brain injury (ABI- brain injury occurred […]

Ancient Egyptian Embalming in Gaming: Assassins Creed Origins

Assassin’s Creed is one of the most successful video game franchises of all time, with Origins being the tenth instalment in the series. It is a stealth video game, with this version set in the Ptolemaic period (49-47BC) in Egypt and recounting a fictional history of the rise of the disposed Cleopatra VII. As an […]

Who was ‘Typhoid Mary’? Mary Mallon and the fever of early 20th Century New York City

Mary Mallon was born in Cookstown, Ireland, in 1869. At around the age of 15, Mary migrated to New York City to live with her Aunt and Uncle and took up work as a cook.It was in the Summer of 1906 when Mary was working for a wealthy banker called Charles Warren that she earned […]

The Archaeology of Public Execution in 19th Century Britain: a narrative told through the examination of three accused.

Prior to the Capital Punishment Amendment Act 1868, executions of criminals were public affairs. After the introduction of this act, executions were carried out within the walls of the prison, away from the prying eyes of the general public. In the Victorian era, hanging could attract thousands of spectators- with the events usually advertised prior […]

The Archaeology of Victorian Grief: Looking at how the 19th Century mourned their dead and how it has shaped today’s practices.

Grief is a personal experience, but it can be largely influenced by societal norms, cultural background and it is very much a product of the era in which the death occurred. Grieving practices in one society can seem completely alien to another- I myself have experienced this in the UK when I discuss rural, Irish, […]

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