Many moons ago I was a young slip of a girl with a pair of blonde pigtails and an AK47, because I embarked upon a short course in Forensic Anthropology at what was basically a military training university. As well as learning about cadaver dogs, how to identify bones and exhume remains, and even meeting the Queen of forensic palynology (yes there is such a thing – Google “Patricia Wiltshire”) I was able to go to the firing range and try my hand with several large weapons as part of the forensic ballistics module. It was fantastic! What was really incredible though is that it eventually led to me heading off to an island in the Venetian Lagoon for an excavation of skeletons at an old plague hospital. The island, not as well known back then as it is now, was called Lazzaretto Nuovo (A Lazzaretto or Lazaret is a quarantine station, and is particularly a maritime term). The dig was being led by one of the professional students on my course, Matteo Borrini – a forensic anthropologist from Florence – and as you can see from the below pic of us at the firing range we became good friends. I was honoured to be invited along.