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  • Specimen of the Week 194: The Death’s-Head Hawkmoth

    By Rowan J J Tinker, on 29 June 2015

    The pinned Death's-head hawkmoths. LDUCZ-L1438

    The pinned Death’s-head hawkmoths. LDUCZ-L1438

    I stand before you to beseech absolution. I confess to my unholy bias in favour of the darker and somewhat supernatural beings of the museum, yet I seek no forgiveness. I will endeavour to one day improve this, and talk about some adorable abomination with darling little eyes and a twee silken coat, but to be honestly forthright, I recoil at the thought. I’ve always found delight in those lacking in vertebral column, often simply regarding the spine itself as excess baggage, hence I rejoice to formally announce that I’m keeping with the creepy invertebrate vibe.

    This week’s specimen is most agreeable to the palate of those with a less cute-inclined disposition; with the markings of a demon and the scent of bees, this week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    Morbid Reflections

    By Rachael Sparks, on 26 September 2011

    My father-in-law recently died, and as the funeral approaches I find myself looking at archaeology’s preoccupation with death and burial with somewhat different eyes.

    Roman Inscription 2010/207

    I’ve faced the remnants of death before, while excavating ancient Near Eastern tombs, but its been an old, dusty, archaeological sort of death where the individual is reduced to a collection of different bones, carefully labelled and bagged. Their humanity is long gone, and any traces of personality linger only around the objects found in their grave.

    The fact that this was someone else’s ancestor, somebody’s mother, father, sister, brother, daughter or son doesn’t really register, because after all, it’s nobody you know. It’s easy to retain a sense of scientific detachment when the past is far distant and geographically removed from your own personal sense of ancestry.

    (more…)