Isabella Thomson

2023 McNair Scholar, Isabella Thomson

University of New Hampshire
McNair Scholar, 2023
Major: Anthropology & Classics
Mentor: Dr. Jack Biggs
Research Title: Determining the History and Origin of an Altered Human Femur for Repatriation: Cultural Artifact or a Product of Dark Tourism?

A human femur that was cut and painted post-mortem was accepted by the former State Archaeologist and is now housed at the University of New Hampshire. The femur closely resembles an Aztec cultural object known as a "bone rattle." The person who surrendered the femur to the former State Archaeologist claimed it was used for ritual purposes by the Odd Fellows Society. If this is the case, it would be more suggestive of a history involving dark tourism and appropriation than an authentic cultural artifact. With the assistance of Professor Jack Biggs, current State Archaeologist Mark Doperalski, the UNH Instrumentation Center, and various on and off-campus entities, research will be done on the femur to answer multiple questions. How old is the femur? Where did it come from? Is the individual of indigenous origin, like those of the Aztec? Why was it altered and is it an authentic indigenous artifact? These questions will be explored through a variety of tests and analyses with the hope that the remains will be repatriated and reburied.

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