First Review for Built on Bones!

So, I spent this week doing a lot of things. One of my favorites was freaking about my photoshopped proximity to lifetime hero author Neil ...

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Occasionally, people wonder what it is a dental anthropologist does. Not often, mind. And if they do make the mistake of asking, generally eyes glaze over before you can say 'hydroxyapatite'.

So as you can imagine, I get a bit overexcited when people seem to actually want to know how one goes about the business of being the Tooth Fairy.  I've just come back from Turkey, where I've been studying human remains from the beautiful early Neolithic site of Asıklı Höyük, home to the first farmers and earliest settlement of the Anatolian plateau.




My mission was to take casts of the teeth, to address questions about childhood health and growth. One of the first queries I got from my fellow archaeologists however, was what, exactly, I actually do -- so I made this little instructional video for the benefit of the lab, and hopefully future students in the biological anthropology program at Hacateppe University.



Dental Impressions from Brenna Hassett on Vimeo.

So now, you know. The life of a tooth fairy is a strange one, and often accompanied by Glenn Miller.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

#update! day of archaeology site is having some problems, so the links have been temporarily removed...

originally posted by   on JUNE 29, 2012 as part of the 

This is reposted from here at Day of Archaeology 2012 - bigger and badder than last year! #dayofarch
So, now you know. The Tooth Fairy is an archaeologist.
Archaeologists get everywhere. Like sand. This also applies to  jobs, so it’s not totally impossible that someone who specialises in the minute structures of teeth (see my previous post from DayofArch 2011) would end up in the overwhelmingly awesome Human Origins Research Group at the Natural History Museum, London.
Natural History Museum
For starters, this is an awesome place to work. Yesterday I found out that during WWII, the collections were evacuated to stately homes across the country to escape the Blitz… complete with associated researchers. And there’s a basement here that’s really a bomb shelter which was used by Churchill as a telephone exchange – part of the secret tunnels which run all under this area up to the Palace and War Rooms. Herman Hess apparently even spent a few nights in the Anthro Stores before his trial.
And today, on the Day of Archaeology, this particular Tooth Fairy is gearing up for more research than you can shake a stick at. In relation to the main project I work on at the NHM I’ve:

uwrapped my new camera toy;

eaten cake and discussed human origins/Euro2012; and

discovered a disturbing image mode setting on the new camera.
I’m also getting ready to go out to the field to look at the teeth of children who died in central Anatolia (Turkey) sometime between 10,500-8,500 years ago.  These are the remains of subadults from the amazing site of Aşıklı Höyük, the earliest settlement of the Anatolian Plateau.
I’ll be looking at the microscopic records of growth captured on every tooth–perikymata–to see how these children lived and grew. Like tree-rings, the lines on the outside of our teeth give a lot of information on how we grew (here‘s a more in-depth explanation). It’s a way to find out about health and development in early childhood at the very beginning of human settlement. Were there lots of growth disruptions? Can we see records of illness that might suggest seasonal diseases related to shifting subsistence patterns? That tell us about birth spacing?
I’m excited to find out. Even if I will totally get green dental impression material all over my nice new lab coat. It’s the price you pay for science!
Anyway, my days are pretty varied, but you can certainly keep up with me @brennawalks, or follow @ah_arkeoloji for more on Aşıklı Höyük.

N.B. All opinions etc. are my own, and do not necessarily reflect those of my benevolent employer. Images under creative commons fair use.

Trivia (personal)

archaeologist. dental anthropologist. yes, that's a real thing. Author of Built on Bones, available in February 2017 (UK), May 2017 (USA) from Bloomsbury.

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