Overview: The purpose of this assignment is to practice creating research questions and hypotheses using multiple sources of data. In studying the history of health, we rely almost entirely on inductive reasoning, bringing together a range of evidence to create the best set of explanations. Hypotheses are used to lay out several explanations so they can be tested systematically against the evidence. In this assignment, you will pretend to be a bioarchaeologist hired to generate good hypotheses for a museum seeking to learn more about the history of health in Britain. Anticipated Time Required: 4-5 hours Background Information: The center for Bioarcheology at the Natural History Museum in London has recently contracted you to conduct a scientific investigation of the history of human health and disease in England. Your first assignment with them is a preliminary study on health at Berkchister parish church in Yorkshire. Known historically as a place where plague victims were buried during outbreaks of the Black Death. The Natural History Museum wants you to conduct research and present the results at an upcoming conference on the history of health in Britain. Additionally, you will be the lead scientist and author for subsequent publications. You were chosen for this project because of your interdisciplinary training in archeology, history, and human osteology. So you will be spending the next three weeks conducting research, and we want as a scientist, for you to appreciate how historical records can be an important source of data.
Week one: During your first week in York, you begin investigating the history of Berkchister parish church and the York archives. In reading through the archival materials, you discover that German bombing of the city during World War II unearthed a portion of the church’s medieval cemetery in the 1950s. After the war, a team of archeologists were brought in to document and further excavate the cemetery. During the course of those excavations, the archeologists discovered that Berkchister Parish Church has an extensive history of use as a mortuary site, with the earliest burials dating to the Mesolithic period around 7000 B.C., or 9000 years before present, well prior to written records. In a dusty box at the back of the archives, you find all the archeological field notes recorded at the time of the excavation, including observations about the skeleton themselves. Upon your request, archives personnel make a copy of these for you to take with you. It appears that no one else since the original archeological team has conducted any additional studies of the skeletons from the site.
Week two: Having finished going through the city archives, you now spend the next two weeks at the York Museum where some of those skeletons from the Berkchister parish cemetery are being stored. The archeologists who excavated the Berkchister parish church site were very thorough in their recording of skeletal indicators of health. But as a properly trained bioarcheologist, you yourself must inspect the skeletons in order to confirm the archeologists observations. Week three: Your final task in York is to obtain suitable samples for ancient DNA analysis. You’ve been provided a budget of 2000 British pounds for an ancient DNA study of skeletons from the site. Based on the field notes, and your analysis of the skull to collection curated at the museum, you have identified ten skeletons you hope will yield sufficient pathogenic DNA to confirm diagnosis based on skeletal pathologies. With the approval of the museum staff, you extract a small portion of bone and a tooth from each of the ten skeletons to send to an independent aDNA lab in London. You expect to have the results back within two to three weeks. The assignment: Upon your return to the Natural History Museum in London your first task, as a scientist who wants to do things in the proper fashion, is to review all of the materials that are now available to you including the field notes and the results of the DNA analysis. You will then compile all of this information and develop hypotheses related to changes in health and disease through time for the people buried at the Berkchister parish church site. Finally, you will use the data at your disposal to write a brief summary of changes through time and patterns of health and disease among skeletal samples from the site.
Assignment 1 Rubric 100 total points Part I: Bioarchaeological Analysis Hypothesis 1 (30 points) (1) Identifies specific evidence indicating a change in health through time (2) Research question relates physical evidence in (1) to a social/environmental/demographic factor to address change in health through time (3) Hypothesis is testable, relates to research question in (2) and suggests relationship between change in health and a social/environmental/demographic factor (30 = Excellent, 22.5 = Satisfactory, 15 = Fair, 7.5 = Attempt, 0 = No content) Hypothesis 2 (30 points) (1) Identifies specific evidence indicating a change in health through time (2) Research question relates physical evidence in (1) to a social/environmental/demographic factor to address change in health through time (3) Hypothesis is testable, relates to research question in (2) and suggests relationship between change in health and a social/environmental/demographic factor (30 = Excellent, 22.5 = Satisfactory, 15 = Fair, 7.5 = Attempt, 0 = No content) Part II: Summary Report (30 points) (1) Addresses whether overall health improves or declines through time using specific (2) Addresses what factors (social/cultural/environmental/demographic) likely contributed to the overall health trends (3) Supports arguments with evidence from the Roberts and Cox (2007) reading (30 = Excellent, 22.5 = Satisfactory, 15 = Fair, 7.5 = Attempt, 0 = No content) Formatting (5 points) (1) Maintains 1-inch margins, single spacing, and 12 point font throughout assignment sheet (5 = Excellent, 3.75 = Satisfactory, 2.5 = Fair, 1.25 = Attempt, 0 = No content) Spelling/Grammar (5 points) (1) Spelling and grammar errors (5 = Excellent [0-1 errors], 3.75 = Satisfactory [2-3 errors], 2.5 = Fair [4-5 errors], 1.25 = Attempt [6-7 errors], 0 = No content [8+ errors])
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