The purpose of this project was to analyze and digitize information pertaining to the collection of Mesopotamian burials held at St. Lawrence University under Dr. Mindy Pitre, excavated from Tell Leilan, Syria between 1979 and 1991 under the direction of Yale professor Dr. Harvey Weiss.
Prior analysis had been inconsistently conducted on various sets of remains, and testing had removed and destroyed skeletal material since their excavation. As bioarchaeological standards of lab analysis and methods for documenting juvenile information had only arisen in the early 21st century, information on each set of remains needed to be reevaluated for accuracy, and the information uploaded to an online database to ease access for future use and research.
Methods included conducting an osteobiographical analysis on each set of remains to collect estimated sex, age, pathology, stature, and genetic ancestry, as well as photographing and uploading each bone from each set of remains for observation. Past documentation was organized by year and burial and uploaded as contextual information into the dataset to provide future researchers with as much information as possible.
A total of 37 burials representing an estimated 59 individuals excavated between the years of 1979 and 1987 was completed, out of a total of 71 burials representing an estimated 99 individuals excavated between 1979 and 1991. Each burial was designated an excavation year and code based on its location within Tell Leilan, and given a digital folder with past documentation, present documentation, photographical representation, and a summary sheet. Site-wide contextual information and prior lab-testing conducted on remains was given its own contextual folder.
While this project remains incomplete, the database is accessible, easily navigable and user-friendly, providing a space for data on a collection previously only studied on paper documentation. This assemblage of information provides not only an analysis of the remains themselves, but also a history of the studies conducted on these remains, and the institutions between which they’ve been transported.