The Skeleton in the Closet: An Historic Forensic Case from Scio, Oregon Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/undergraduate_thesis_or_projects/4x51hm06m

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  • In August of 2011, Jenny Minten came across an old coffin, complete with a skeleton, in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) Scio lodge. After it was determined that the skeleton did not represent a modern forensic case, the remains were donated to the Oregon State University Anthropology Department. Utilizing a multi-disciplinary anthropological approach involving historic- and pre-historic archaeology and osteology, the analysis of this individual had many significant findings. The casket was dated to 1855-1870, the bones were preserved in an arsenic heavy solution, and the skeleton had likely been used as a medical model. This skeleton was determined to be male, over 40 years old at time of death, of European ancestry, and between 5’7” and 5’10” in height. The individual likely died of tuberculosis as determined by lytic lesions on the skeleton. An interesting aspect of this project involved learning the history of the IOOF and exploring the possible answers to the questions of how and why the remains were in a closet. The oral histories obtained state that the remains had been used in rites that are a symbolic acceptance of one’s own mortality.
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