The shade of a palm tree is an unusual place for students from Utica College to take a class, but thatâ€™s where Tom Crist teaches his summer course in osteologyâ€"the Â study of bones. Â Standing at the head of a concrete picnic table recently, Crist carefully lifted a craniumâ€"a human skullâ€"from a plastic Ziploc bag.
â€œSo you are meeting your first Butrint individual,â€ Crist told the students.Â â€œThis is from burial 1250 from area 19.
You can see some of the orbital bone is broken away here.
That is post-mortem loss. â€œ
Crist is a bones guy.Â He teaches forensic anthropology at Utica College, and he right after the College graduation he brought a dozen students to do field work in Albaniaâ€™s Butrint National Park.
For the eleventh year in a row, his
students from Utica College
and other schools from around the country studied under that palm tree.
Theyâ€™re were learning how to identify bones, and the markers of disease, skills that can be applied in law enforcement or working for medical examiners.
said the course offers more than forensic technique.
â€œWe could offer a course like this anywhere, even at home
said. Â â€œThe extra benefits of coming to a place like Butrint is the opportunity to visit unusual parts of the world, for most Americans, to having skeletal remains from hundreds or thousands of years of occupation. â€œ
Getting out of their comfort zones, Tom Crist
notes, is something the ancients had to do too.