Letters RIP Richardson The author of the article about the St Bride's Crypt skeletons (CA /90) kindly aIIowcd mc to writc a rcply to the inreresting and pertinenr letter from Dr Joseph Harbison about possible diseases of the author and prinrer Samuel Richardson (SR). Thc information was based on an original article co-authored by me, whose main ainl was to correlate skeletal and dOClll11enrary evidence. I am able to fill in some of thc details.
It is of course true that Parkinson's disease does not manifest on the skeleton but there are several pieces of evidence that suggest that SR might have suffered from this disease. From documenrary sources, such as letters and contemporary aCCOlll1t5, it seems that SR had at least two and possibly three of the four cardinal feamres. He is described in a paper bv Brophy (1974) as walking aW"'wardly and with a short-stepped, 'festinating'gait and is also known to have \:vritten with an increasingly small script thus displaying the micrographia that is characteristic of the disease. There arc also descriptions of hinl staring with an 'uJlsnliling t1Ce' which could be hypomimia although I agree that his portraits do nor particularly show this feamre. However, of the twO reproduced in the CA article, the one by Joseph Highmore (now in the National Portrait Gallery) was paimed in the late 1740's and the second, by Mason Chamberlain was certainly nOt later than 1754, which was some 20 years before Richardson's death in 1761.
The possibility of the Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis is an interesting Olle and again there is evidence that SR displayed some of the signs. He was certainly somewhat obese and as Dr Herbison noted had a 'ruddy checked' appcarance. This is also described in a letter to Richardson from George Cheyne, his friend and doctor for several years in 1741. He quoted a mutual friend as saying "Mr Bertrand tells me that you look fully puffed, short neck't and Head and Face bursting with blood". The severe Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal
Hyperostosis (DISH) that Richardson undoubtedly suffered from may be associated with petiodonral disease and there are accoums in the clinical Iiterarure of both obesity and diabetes being associated with DISH.
The first accoums of spinal hyperostosis were by Forestier, RotesQuerol and Lagier (hence Forestier's disease) and desu'ibed living patients with the specific signs of the 'candle flanle' appearance on lateral radiographs. Later, Resnick et al. described the extraspinal changes that were often associated with signs of new bone formation at the attachments of ligaments and tendons to bone throughout the body, and the disease came to be known as DISH. There are many papers in the clinical literature dlat describe this in living patients.
Obviously this rare kind of skeletal research is only possible where a well known person has much documentary evidence available. However this is still far from sn'aightforward as eighteenth century descriptions of disease can be difficult to interpret and it can be tempting to jump to conclusions. It was a privilege to examine dle physical remains of dlis eminent man of letters. Louise Scheuer Department of Anatomy & Developmental Biology, Royal Free & University College Medical School, London
Detecting bias? With the news report dut possibly dle first Viking boat burial had been uncovered in England (CA 191), I foolishly dlOught that Current Archaeology had finally come to realise that metal detectorists were not all gold seeking plunderers. The fact dut these important finds had been rescued from the plough soil by someone with a metal detector seems to have really sruck in the throat of the writer who couldn't resist the last melodramatic dig - 'we remain hopeful dur their method of discovery has nOt destroyed valuable arcllaeological evidence forever.'
Why can CA nor be positive about metal detectors for once and admit that, widl0ut the dl0usands of man hours put in by detectorists slogging through Britain's ploughed fields, some very importanr sites would remain lU1scheduled and lU1prorected from ploughing and development. The purposes of all concerned would be better served if publications such as CA, rather than condemning out of hand, encouraged professional archaeologists to integrate widl detectorists. This would at once increase detectorists' awareness of proper tecluliques and standards of recording, whilst giving archaeologists access to a massive army of willing volunteers.
It is unrealistic to assume that IIDetccrorisrll and "Amateur Archaeologists" are twO separate species that are murually exclusive. In the same way it would be foolish of me to say that everyone with a detector is an angel - there are exanlples of incompetence and lack of experience in every hobby/profession. As dlis is undoubtedly the case I am looking forward to dle next CA report of a University dig ending widl the pronOlU1Cment 'We pray dlat their lack of any practical experience will nOt lead to the destruction of nationally important fU1ds forever. . .o.
I won't be holding my breadl though ... John Whittle email@example.com
BA hi,qh tech The article regarding the experimental results for Bronze Age 'Bunsen'burners in CA 190 was very enlightening.
The overall shape and design mirrors, quite remarkably, the internal combustion chambers of early gas turbine engines. It has been recorded that dle mOst difficult part for Sir Frank Whittle when designing his jet engines was achieving complete and stable combustion of the high speed gasses racing through dlem. If only he could have asked the 'ancestral engineer' three millennia ago for some advice, he could have alleviated many of his headaches! The
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