Workshop in Tartu 4-6 July 2013

By Willem J. Mulder, coordinator

The 11th workshop under the auspices of the European Association for Museums of Medical Historical Sciences was held from July 4 till 6 in the old Estonian University town of Tartu (formerly Dorpat). We were the guests of the fabulous new AHHAA centre, a very attractive activity hall in which science in all its varieties is exposed and experienced. The AHHAA building houses also the anatomical and pathological collections of the Tartu University, this as a replacement for the old Anatomical Theatre on Tooms Hill which had to be abandoned some two years ago.

As announced in the Berlin Conference, the main theme was: A new life for old skeletons and paper mache models.” Apart from the Estonian organizers representatives (approximately 25) from England, India, Lithuania, Netherlands, Romania, Russia, Sweden and Ukraine were present.

Unfortunately, a number of the earlier registered members had to cancel their participation, due to the economical crises and other personal reasons.

At the start of the meeting papers were presented by Inger Wikström-Haugen, about the History of the EAMMHS, John Le Grand, Bony Stories and Jana Limbo-Simovart about the several Contents of Chemical Elements in archeological Human Bones as a Source of Nutrition Research. Then there was a practical session on cleaning paper mache models in which each participant did have a task! This al was introduced by Ene Sarap of Mandragora Ltd. The next practical session was about cleaning excavated (human) bones. Some very useful advises were spread. The third practical session was about the conservation of the eye. For this aim a number of frozen pigs eyes were available. This was for many of us an extraordinary experience.

Of course, there were several occasions to exchange experiences and to get to know each other. During these discussions there came proposals to have the next meeting in Wroclaw (Poland) at the forensic museum of the university. Unanimously this suggestion was taken over. The ideal theme would be “DNA techniques in historical anatomical materials.” The undersigned will try to propagate this further in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Tadeusz Dobosz, head of the department.

There was a visit to the Botanical Gardens of Tartu, where very nice refreshments were served. Also a visit to the Beer factory and Museum of Le Coq was quite an experience. The workshop was ended by a tour on a barge at the Emajogi river, another highlight of our meeting not only because of the very nice and warm weather, but also food and drinks! Realizing it was a long journey for most of us, one could wish our meeting had been a day longer. Not in the last place because of the nice atmosphere and kind hospitality of the Tartu community. Concluding we look back to a very successful meeting, which was perfectly organized by our inspiring colleague Maie Toomsalu, and her team.