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  • Susan Elaine Jones

When I'm dead, I want to go out and meet new people

Through some fantastic luck, a chance meeting a few years ago sparked my interest in skeletons and came together as a superb visit to an osteoarchaeology collection. And this happened on my birthday. How brilliant is that?

Victorian casts of female (top) and male (bottom) skulls, showing strong sexual identifying features

Pelvis from different angles

This osteoarchaeology collection (see portfolio here) is usually kept behind locked doors and used for teaching the students at Cambridge University. Not only did I get the chance to spend some one-on-one time with them for photography. But also, they are coming out for a public appearance at the Dying for Life event on Saturday 13th May. This is a once-in-a-lifetime free event is a chance for normal people to have the privilege to meet and learn from bones in one of the finest collections in the country.

I cannot recommend highly enough that you come along if you have the chance. Admittedly I have had a lot to do with organising the day - so it does somewhat reflect what I would choose to do with my time.

There will be a big display of my skull based photographs, and thanks to this collections manager I will be able to share those photos online after the event, as well as have them in an exhibition catalogue for sale. But nothing can match the feeling of seeing the bones in real life; or holding in your hands the evidence of life left behind.

The Dying for Life event will combine all this with displays from the Brain and Tissue Bank, the Cambridge Human Anatomy Teaching Group, and information on organ donation and all the other positive things you can choose to do with your body to help others when you die.

Personally, I hope that when I die (which is inevitable sometime in the next 100 years), it will be possible to use as many bits of my body for practical help, research and teaching as possible. If I am really lucky, I hope my skull is going out and meeting new people well into my 200s and 300s. I think I will be less shy by then, but I'll get some practice in on meeting people next Saturday. I hope to see you there.

Inside view of the back of the skull
Inside view of the frontal bones of a skull - with persistent metopic suture - just like me!

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