How to Read the Secrets in a Skeleton

Haagen Klaus studies the ancient and mysterious remains of societies along Peru’s northern coastal areas. A recent project has seen him racing against the clock in the modern-day town of Olmos to rescue skeletons from a looming construction project and the scathing rains of El Niño. Here, Klaus picks up his story beginning the morning after a torrential rainstorm.

The back of this person’s cranium shows the “scars” of childhood anemia. The surface of the cranium should be smooth, but in this case, it’s pitted and porous with inactive porotic hyperostosis. During this person’s youth, the marrow spaces of the cranium expanded due to some type of nutritional anemia. Though extensively healed, the remnants of anemia can remain visible for many years or decades. (Photo by Haagen Klaus)

The morning after torrential rains and an exploding transformer had made the hotel go dark, electricity was restored, and just after dawn I peered outside the hotel. The rains had temporarily ceased. But their aftermath left Olmos a muddy mess and drove daytime humidity to unpleasantly high levels. Walking across streets and even sidewalks involved slogging through a lot of mud. Yet the local townspeople were glad. For several months, Olmos had —> Read More Here


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