Written in Bone

  • by Sally M. Walker
  • Narrated by Greg Abbey
  • 3 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

How did the colonists of Jamestown and Maryland live and die? Forensic anthropology provides an incredible array of answers. Scientists can look into a grave and determine the skeleton's gender, age at time of death, nationality, and sometimes even economic standing within minutes. Laboratory studies can provide cause of death information. Once these details are known, some skeletons can even be matched with a name via the historical record.
Sibert-winning author Sally M. Walker worked side by side with archaeologists and forensic anthropologists in her research for this uniquely appealing book.

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What the Critics Say

“Greg Abbey’s clear delivery and conversational tone enliven this fast-paced work.” (AudioFile)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

FASCINATING, BUT WAY TOO SHORT!

This book is about scientists digging up the bones of the earliest immigrant settlers of our country, mostly people from England who died in the 1600's. It is not too scientific to capture anyone's attention. The narrator is good, but I lopped off a star because he tries to replicate the voices of scientists who are being quoted. I don't care if a scientist has a brogue or is a woman with a cute little voice. Indeed, the narrator himself doesn't seem comfortable switching into those different voices! That said, the book is endlessly fascinating in telling of how various early graves are located and respectfully opened, the bones studied, etc. The graves are given very scientific monikers, but then as Walker describes the contents and the results of tests, we begin to see real people who worked very hard, who had just arrived or who had been eating an American corn diet for some time. We know which ones were plagued by painful life-threatening rotten teeth and in most cases how they died. We find out that they were not buried in clothes because clothes were so valuable! The shrouds were held together by straight pins. The custom of wrapping babies tightly in swaddling clothes prevented their getting the Vitamin D in sunshine, and the babies suffered from rickets. One very upscale lady tried to whiten her teeth, to the great detriment of the teeth! One young man had an Indian arrowhead in his thigh! Another was probably murdered or so overworked and mistreated that he didn't have a chance in the New World. Study of bones can show great physical effort in a lifetime, whether it is a 17th Century indentured servant or a modern weight-lifter! I wonder if the book included pictures and if so, I would like to see them. One Negro girl was recreated the way some police work with bones to arrive at a good idea what she looked like. In a few cases, the researchers could make very good guesses as to the names of individuals.

This book could help a young person choose a career or at least study harder the requisite sciences. Highly recommended for a bright ten-year-old and up and up! Just way too short!
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- Prsilla

Very interesting.

This is the type of book that deals with an interesting subject but avoids the mind numbing bibliographies. The author stays on topic and avoids sensless deviations into the personal lives of everybody and their mother who was ever involved in the topic.

My only complaint is that it was so interesting that I could not stop listening and finished it quickly.
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- Bob

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-31-2009
  • Publisher: Audible Studios