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Tue Dec 18, 2012, 08:56 PM

Ancient Bones That Tell a Story of Compassion



Almost all the other skeletons at the site, south of Hanoi and about 15 miles from the coast, lie straight. Burial 9, as both the remains and the once living person are known, was laid to rest curled in the fetal position. When Ms. Tilley, a graduate student in archaeology, and Dr. Oxenham, a professor, excavated and examined the skeleton in 2007 it became clear why. His fused vertebrae, weak bones and other evidence suggested that he lies in death as he did in life, bent and crippled by disease.

They gathered that he became paralyzed from the waist down before adolescence, the result of a congenital disease known as Klippel-Feil syndrome. He had little, if any, use of his arms and could not have fed himself or kept himself clean. But he lived another 10 years or so.

They concluded that the people around him who had no metal and lived by fishing, hunting and raising barely domesticated pigs, took the time and care to tend to his every need.

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And earlier this year, in proposing what she calls a “bioarchaeology of care,” Ms. Tilley wrote that this field of study “has the potential to provide important — and possibly unique — insights into the lives of those under study.” In the case of Burial 9, she says, not only does his care indicate tolerance and cooperation in his culture, but suggests that he himself had a sense of his own worth and a strong will to live. Without that, she says, he could not have stayed alive.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/18/science/ancient-bones-that-tell-a-story-of-compassion.html?pagewanted=all

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Reply Ancient Bones That Tell a Story of Compassion (Original post)
Liberal_in_LA Dec 2012 OP
CaliforniaPeggy Dec 2012 #1
Skittles Dec 2012 #2
roguevalley Dec 2012 #3
starroute Dec 2012 #4

Response to Liberal_in_LA (Original post)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 09:03 PM

1. They may have been primitive people...

But yes, they did know compassion.

I wonder if we have as much as they...

K&R

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Response to CaliforniaPeggy (Reply #1)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 09:43 PM

2. I just made my 200th platelet donation!

for people I don't even know!

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Response to Skittles (Reply #2)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 09:49 PM

3. our ancestors were wonderful too. I am always

in awe of this stuff. Well done, Skittles. you are one of the reasons tonight isn't all shit at my house.

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Response to CaliforniaPeggy (Reply #1)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 12:03 AM

4. There are no such thing as "primitive people" -- all people are the same

There aren't even "primitive" cultures -- all cultures are equally complex in their own ways. Those that are technologically simpler often have far greater complexity in their social customs and languages than ours does.

And compassion is not some modern invention. Humans everywhere feel just as deeply and do as much as they can for those they love as their material resources allow.

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