Work. Takes its toll, doesn’t it? Makes you weary to the bones sometimes. Sick even.
Work used to be in the field mostly – back-breaking stuff – and then along come industrial revolution and everyone rushed to places like the city with its crowded streets and choking air and things got worse.
How much damage that caused – and its consequence for modern lifestyles – is the subject of a major archaeological study at the Museum of London in the City.
Following an £80,000 bequest, more than 1,000 skeletons from the museum’s collection from the 18th century will be digitally scanned to discover the physical price of the industrial revolution. They will be compared with 500 medieval skeletons from outside London.
Leading the project is Jelena Bekvalac, based at the Museum of London’s Centre for Human Bioarcheology, along with her research team, Gaynor Western and Mark Farmer.
Jelena Bekvalac, said: “Modern health trends have seen a shift towards increasing life expectancy but we want to look again at what are often thought of as ‘man-made’ conditions like obesity and cancer.
“Given today’s more sedentary lifestyles, far removed from the physically active and natural existence of most of our forebears, there are some big questions about the origins of these diseases and how they relate to the modern environment.”
The museum will use the latest clinical techniques, including direct digital radiography, CT Scanning and 3D modelling, to get a better understanding of what the bones tell us and to assess their change over time.
This work will culminate in the creation of an extensive new interactive digital resource that can be explored online. Jelena Bekvalac and the team plans to make an immediate start on the digital imaging and aim to publish findings, as well as deliver a series of lectures about the work.