Good morrow, Richard III nerds; you are early stirring

Okay, it’s not that early. I just couldn’t resist mooching from Shakespeare for obvious reasons. This is your official History Blog wakeup call: one hour from now the St. Louis University colloquium on the excavation and identification of the remains of King Richard III kicks off. Station yourself on the R3@SLU website to watch the event streaming. Geneticist Dr. Turi King and the dig’s fieldwork director Matthew Morris will be on hand to discuss the find along with history, humanities, forensic pathology and English professors from SLU.

The colloquium lasts six hours but they will break for nature and lunch, so you probably won’t have to use that Snapple bottle you haven’t recycled yet. Alternatively, you could just wait for the entire video to be uploaded to the site after the discussion is over. Dr. Jonathan Sawday from the St. Louis University English department and one of the organizers of the event, was kind enough to comment on the first post to assure us that the video will be available, and the site now confirms it will be found on the Schedule page.

Right now that page contains the actual schedule. Matthew Moris and Turi King will be on in the afternoon, but don’t skip the St. Louis University talks because it all looks like gold, Jerry. There’s something for everyone. As I am also a forensic pathology nerd, I am very much looking forward to Dr. Michael Graham discussion of Medico-legal Death Investigation: Now and Then.

I’ll be watching today, updating this post with any nerdy commentary as the proverbial spirit moves me. Join me in the comments, if the proverbial spirit moves you. :boogie:

And we’re on! It’s cool to hear to the perspective of Leicesterians from Dr. Sawday.

Oh hey, I didn’t know Sir Walter Scott invented the term “War of the Roses.”

Archaeologist Thomas Finan: Leading a dig is “less of an Indiana Jones experience and more of an Eisenhower experience.” Nicely put.

Dammit, the stream has stopped for me. :angry: Okay it’s back. I missed a chunk of Dr. Finan’s presentation about his finds in the UK which I will catch up when the full video is uploaded.

Archaeologists see an unidentified skeleton as a sample of the wider population, a source of information about the population’s health, age, diet, physical attributes, etc. The individual’s cause of death is not often writ on the skeletal remains. If they’ve died of disease or old age or a sudden heart attack, say, you’re not going necessarily going to find evidence of that on the bones.

Now that the recovery of ancient DNA is possible, it opens the door to a whole new investigation into the remains as an individual rather than as a source of data for the wider population.

It’s pathology time! Ooh, interesting that China was doing forensic death investigations in the 13th century.

The coroner’s office was established in England in the 8th or 9th century. That is crazy. They didn’t include autopsies until much later, however, so even if Richard’s death had been investigated, his body would have been looked at but nothing more.

The US is still under the coroner system today. Frontline did a fantastic and terrifying expose’ of what a slapdash disaster death investigations can be in the United States. You can watch that program online on the PBS website and I highly, HIGHLY recommend it.

The choppiness is getting me down, y’all. I might have to wait for the finished video.

Stab wound with hilt mark and hesitation marks on the wrist. That slice with the lined up pinpoints indicate a serrated weapon was used, in this case a saw. Wound interpretation is fascinating.

Now there’s what I’m sure is a compelling round table conversation on how archaeologists, curators, etc. handle human remains in a respectful way but it’s like an audio version of a strobe light and I just can’t take it anymore. I’m giving up for now, but I’ll try again regularly.

Huh. They seem to have gone back to Dr. Finan’s presentation and it sounds and looks fine. I’ll take it!

Okay, it appears they used the break to replay the presentation that was so choppy. Now it’s back to the live colloquium with Dr. Anthony Hasler’s talk Richard’s World. There are still some moments when the stream has to catch up with itself, but that constant choppiness has cleared up.

Spoke too soon. The choppiness is back.

Okay it’s 1:20 EST and they’re replaying Anthony Hasler’s presentation during the lunch break. The replays all seem to be work well, which means the final video will be good quality.

…. Aaand choppiness again. I’m officially conceding defeat. I’ll try again after lunch.

It’s 2:34 EST and Matthew Morris is up. The stream still stutters. I’m going to go ahead and wait for the completed video. :skull:


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Comment by Carol
2014-02-08 10:07:20

Thanks for the reminder!

Comment by livius drusus
2014-02-08 10:52:21

My pleasure!

Comment by William M.
2014-02-08 10:39:17

Clicked the link but ustream says “Off Air”

Comment by livius drusus
2014-02-08 10:53:23

That’s because it hasn’t started yet. Try again in seven minutes.

Comment by Stacey
2014-02-08 10:57:12

This has been on my calendar since your first post about it. I’m quivering in antici……..pation.

Comment by livius drusus
2014-02-08 11:00:37

I saw people! But then they went away. :(

Comment by William M.
2014-02-08 10:58:28

and there it is..I thought the whole world was on EST :lol:

Comment by livius drusus
2014-02-08 10:59:28

Only the east. :giggle:

Comment by Carol
2014-02-08 11:24:40

My stream was choppy for a bit once Dr. Finan started speaking and has stopped as well. :(

I too didn’t know that Scott invented the term “War of the Roses”. What a troublemaker he was!

Comment by livius drusus
2014-02-08 11:36:31

And I love him so for it. :D

Comment by Carol
2014-02-08 11:28:38

And it’s back! I guess I just needed to complain about it.

Comment by livius drusus
2014-02-08 11:37:00

Me too. I am not a patient nerd.

Comment by Carol
2014-02-08 11:30:11

By the way, it’s Dr. Finan, not Finian. I double-checked:

Comment by livius drusus
2014-02-08 11:35:04

Corrected, thank you!

Comment by kristine
2014-02-08 11:31:53

Haven’t been able to stream at all from Colorado. Guess I will have to try again tomorrow once the entire program has been posted to the schedule section. I wonder if there has been a lot of interest and that is why we all seem to be having trouble watching?

Comment by livius drusus
2014-02-08 11:35:47

That could very well be. Have you tried refreshing the page? I found that I had to reload the entire page to get the video running again after the lapse.

Comment by William M.
2014-02-08 11:42:08

Some problems with the stream and audio unfortunately.

Comment by livius drusus
2014-02-08 11:43:31

For me too. It’s playing now, but it’s very choppy.

Comment by kristine
2014-02-08 11:51:26

Yes, have refreshed the page many times with no success. Think I will get my Saturday chores done and try again later. It sounds like others are having trouble too so patience will have to be my virtue today.

Comment by livius drusus
2014-02-08 11:59:28

But I want it NOOOOOW! How dare complex stream technology fail to deliver as I demand.

Comment by Stacey
2014-02-08 11:53:42

Alas, the stream is too choppy for me to watch. I’m missing about every 4th word. So bummed. I will for sure be watching the whole deal after it gets posted. Keep up the good work Livius! I’ve been reading almost every day for over a year now and have just about finished going through your archive. Your blog is the BEST!

Comment by livius drusus
2014-02-08 12:00:03

Wow, the whole archive? That’s dedication. Thank you, Stacey. :thanks:

Comment by Carol
2014-02-08 11:55:46

I wonder about the date of the establishment of the coroner’s office in England, since it was officially done in 1194 as far as I’m aware. Perhaps there was an unofficial office before that.

This choppiness is awfully frustrating. :( I’m not sure a large number of people watching is the issue, at least through ustream. I’ve watched on that site without a problem for events such as NASA press conferences when Curiosity landed on Mars, and I’d think there were many more people watching them.

Comment by livius drusus
2014-02-08 12:01:38

I’d love to know more about the development of the coroner’s office. Perhaps it wasn’t until the 12th century that it took the form that we know today?

They’re about to take a break. Maybe when they come back they’ll have sorted out the stream.

Comment by lineasaved
2014-02-08 12:28:10

One of the best ways to learn about real archaeological digs is “Time Team” (imho). I think I know lots more about English history than I do about American! Hope that the stream will play better later, had it on my calender since you mentioned it. Something with such an astronomical chance of happening, finding his remains in an area so built up, only missing his feet…Maybe if Henry VIII hadn’t destroyed that church, later burials would have spread his bones to the 4 winds. Thank you for telling us about so many fantastic things.

Comment by livius drusus
2014-02-08 12:32:53

Thank you for reading and commenting on so many fantastic things. :)

Comment by Carol
2014-02-08 12:29:30

R. F. Hunnisett’s The Medieval Coroner still seems to be the go-to book, despite being published in 1961. At a quick glance, current scholarly papers all give 1194 as the start of the modern office, but there are old references to Alfred and a charter by Athelstan. I don’t see anything in the laws of Alfred that I have from my Mediaeval Law course.

I think I’m going to give up and watch it once it has been posted online. At least I’ll be able to take breaks when I want them, I guess.

Comment by livius drusus
2014-02-08 12:32:02

Book added to my list. It’s very much relevant to my interests. :thanks:

Yeah, I’m still listening because I can’t bear to just turn it off. I keep hoping it’ll clear up.

Comment by Countess
2014-02-08 13:01:24

Ended up with the day off. Nerdy YEA..but alas when I click all I get is “canot be displayed in a frame”… :cry: I guess Richard’s biggest fangirl will have to wait for the replay too.Shucks.

Comment by livius drusus
2014-02-08 13:06:41

I have it on at low volume right now just in case the choppiness stops, but no deal so far. I’m hoping it will work right after the lunch break.

Comment by Nelson
2014-02-08 14:07:14

The winter of our discontent is made into a glorious summer by this blog of Yours !

Comment by livius drusus
2014-02-08 14:39:50

Huzzah! It has been a particularly dismal winter this year, so thank you kindly. :thanks:

Comment by Annie Delyth
2014-02-09 11:48:49

Oops. Tried refreshign to see if I could get past the audio stutter and lost the whole thing. Darn. I was picking up quite a bit from the visuals with enough info from the audio to clarify what was going on. I am sad. Going to keep trying. Plan on watching vid later, but hate to miss this. It is fascinating on many levels. And they are talking NOW!

Comment by livius drusus
2014-02-10 00:19:37

They have a chunk of the Matthew Morris and Turi King presentation up on the Ustream page, but the entire colloquium hasn’t been posted. I’ll announce when it has been.

Comment by RM
2014-02-09 20:48:09

I missed a good portion of the broadcast. How soon will it be on YouTube??


Comment by livius drusus
2014-02-10 00:18:26

I don’t know! If it’s not up by the end of tomorrow, I’ll email them and get an eta.

Comment by Countess
2014-02-09 22:58:47

Just got home, from a meeting, and rechecked “Schedule page” still nothing up that can be linked too. :no: .le sigh.If anyone figuers it out could they PLEASE kindly post a working link. :confused:

Comment by livius drusus
2014-02-10 00:18:00

They haven’t posted it yet. I checked SLU’s YouTube channel as well and it’s not there. I’ll be sure to post an update when it’s there, believe you me.

Comment by Countess
2014-02-10 22:30:24


Comment by Annie Delyth
2014-02-11 20:37:32

Livius, you are nothing if not thorough and conscientious. Thanks for a GREAT blog! While we’re waiting for the R3 video to come out, I took a look at the Frontline program you suggested. Illuminating. I knew the US system was flawed, but had no idea how badly. Perhaps because I’ve been lucky to live in states with good med. examiner systems in place. Now besides looking forward to R3 vid, I am going to look into how coroner system came to exist as a way to ensure deaths were accounted for, and how advances in information gathering has changed how that should be done.

Comment by livius drusus
2014-02-13 11:37:10

I’m so glad you watched that documentary! I too was completely shocked to find out about the haphazard state of death investigations in this country. I think the federal system makes widely divergent standards possible in the US in a way that they aren’t in more centralized governments like the UK or Australia. Every state can have their own requirements, or lack thereof.

I recently watched another PBS documentary on the first real scientists in the medical examiner’s office of New York City: ME Charles Norris and toxicologist Alexander Gettler. It’s fascinating and infuriating and so, so sad. It’s called The Poisoner’s Handbook and again you can watch the whole thing on the PBS website. It’s specific to New York so there isn’t anything about how the coroner system came to be on a national scale, but it does cover how repulsively corrupt it was before Norris came in and revolutionized the practice of death investigation.

The documentary is based on a book of the same name that I haven’t read yet, but have added to my list. Author Deborah Blum is a featured commentator in the documentary.

Comment by Carol
2014-02-14 00:23:11

During a discussion of Richard III on the MEDIEV-L mailing list, someone from SLU mentioned the symposium today and stated that their video of it seems “unusable”. Alas!

Comment by livius drusus
2014-02-14 00:48:32

Noooooooooooo! Why God?

Comment by RM
2014-02-14 08:41:48

(see above) What he said… (sniff)

Comment by Countess
2014-02-14 22:24:42

Pooh! :cry: Honstly dont you think a bunch of profesers could figuer out a video camera?

Comment by Jonathan
2014-02-15 20:56:06

Dear Blog,

I’m so sorry that you had a miserable time trying to follow the R3 colloquium at SLU last weekend.The Countess’s comment was very apposite: “Honstly dont you think a bunch of profesers could figuer out a video camera?” Well, yes and no. We should have, but we were trying to do the whole thing on a pretty minimal budget. We’ll try and see what can be rescued from the video that we do have, but, in truth, I’m not hugely optimistic.

Again… my apolgies.


Comment by Countess
2014-02-16 22:00:33

Jonathan, I hope you were not insulted by my coment it was not aimed at you. It was just my frustrion at the whole thing,like when you hope your getting a bike for Christmas and you get socks.Please except my apolgie.The Countess

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