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UW Profiles

A Desire that Runs Bone Deep

Sitting at a computer during the summer of 2005, Melissa Murphy puzzled over what she saw. Photograph after photograph of skeletons discovered at 57AS03 cemetery in Peru showed the Incas died largely of blunt-force trauma while resisting their Spanish conquerors.

As the Incas lived from 1470-1540, this discovery represents two things: the earliest physical evidence of firearms in the Americas, and the first physical evidence of violence associated with the Spanish Conquest of the Inca Empire.

To read the complete article, visit the UWyo Magazine: A Desire that Runs Bone Deep.


Dr. Melissa Murphy

Murphy grew up in Syracuse, New York, the daughter of an education professor at Syracuse University. Like most children, a neighbor asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Thanks to stacks of science magazines in her home, she already had an idea.

"I've wanted to be an archaeologist since I was a kid," Murphy says. "It wasn't until college that my advisor asked me what subjects I liked and I liked most things; I was kind of a neurotic student," she says. "I said, ‘I really like anthropology, but I don't know much about it,' so they advised me to take some anthropology classes. It was great. I was in the right program to get exposure to anthropology and biological anthropology."

After earning her bachelor's in 1994, Murphy embarked on an interesting career path eventually leading her to UW in 2008.

"[At UW] there's a lot of emphasis on research, and we have some top researchers in this department. Not only that, we have some great teachers. I have the best of all worlds."

Learn more about the UW Anthropology Department. Content Courtesy of UWyo Magazine.


Dr. Melissa Murphy

Imagery for this story are skeletal remains from historic European or Chinese Pioneers.

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