Assessing collections in the NMI

In December 2020, PTP was able to access the storage facilities of the National Museum of Ireland to assess our target Irish sites. Human remains and animal remains are stored separately, so this visit focused on assessing human burials from passage tomb and contemporary sites. As we’ve been discovering, this initial assessment or ‘feasibility’ step is crucial, as many key sites were excavated in the 19th and early 20th centuries with different recording standards and priorities. Full osteological and zooarchaeological analysis may not have been undertaken at the time of excavation and this presents both opportunities and challenges. Another important consideration is the destructive nature of much of PTP’s planned analysis and the need to balance this against a finite archaeological resource. We came away from the NMI with a good appreciation of the various archives and their condition, ready to submit a refined sample list and application to alter/export the material in 2021.

Historical label accompanying the human bone assemblage from Fourknocks passage tomb, Co. Meath, excavated in 1950.

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