Archaeology or Cold Case Police?

Who knew that one could learn so much about an event from over 50 years ago frozen in time, a picture. We all know that pictures tell stories, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that a picture can tell you much more than I had previously thought simply by taking a closer look.  For example, Professor Beisaw, an archaeologist, blew my mind with the interpretations she came up with regarding this anonymous photograph below, all that made perfect sense once presented to my eye.

Photograph taken anonymously in the 1940's, a murder victim, unknown, lays across the floor

Photograph taken anonymously in the 1940’s, a murder victim, unknown, lays across the floor


How the position and crinkles in the rug, along with how it appeared he was folding his work clothes suggest he was struck from behind and there was no struggle, especially as there was a letter opener on his desk he could have used if he had seen his attacker. The “Post” magazines, three in chronological order, along with the recent certificate on his desk (not framed) can give a time frame for this picture. How a pipe, used somewhat but the ashtray being empty, and a gun hung around a lamp suggest his age,  around 16-20. I could go on; however, I think I’ve proved my point.

These interpretations and presentation made me realize that there is another dimension to archeologists and what they can do than I, and others, previously thought. Most people think of archaeology as excavating, digging, finding artifacts, etc. And that is a part yes, but here, an archaeologist was able to dive into a murder mystery from over 50 years ago, by using her trained eye to interpret the photograph just like she interprets excavation sites and artifacts she finds, and bring the dead to the present and tell their story, and most importantly, help the future. To bring closure to the family of this mystery boy even 50 years  late.

This is what people usually think about archeology

This is what people usually think about archeology

There’s much more similarity in between crime scene analysis and archaeology that I knew of until Thursday. The main difference primarily being crimes scenes are generally the present, while archaeologists usually interpret the past. Hey, maybe one day we will start calling on archaeologists to solve cold cases.


Anonymous. 1940s. Photograph. The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Poughkeepsie,          NY.The Artful Dodger Goes Late Night. Poughkeepsie: Vassar College, 2013. Print.








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