The Archaeology of Human Bones
By Simon Mays
Routledge – 2010 – 424 pages
The Archaeology of Human Bones provides an up to date account of the scientific analysis of human skeletal remains from archaeological sites. This completely revised edition reflects the latest developments in scientific techniques for studying human skeletons and the latest applications of those techniques in archaeology. In particular, the sections on ancient DNA and bone stable isotopes have been comprehensively updated, and two completely new chapters have been introduced, covering metric study of the postcranial skeleton and ethical dimensions of the study of human remains.
The Archaeology of Human Bones introduces students to the anatomy of bones and teeth, utilising a large number of images. It analyzes the biasing effects of decay and incomplete recovery on burial data from archaeological sites, and discusses what we may learn about burial rites from human remains. Subsequent chapters focus on demographic analysis of earlier populations, normal skeletal variation, disease and injury, isotopic and DNA analysis of bone, the study of cremated bone and ethical aspects of working with ancient human remains. Current scientific methods are explained, alongside a critical discussion of their strengths and weaknesses. The ways in which scientific analyses of human skeletal remains can contribute to tackling major archaeological or historical issues is illustrated by means of examples drawn from studies from around the world.
Technical jargon is kept to a minimum, and each chapter contains a summary of the main points that a student should grasp and a list of further reading targeted to enable students to follow up major issues covered in the book. Featuring case studies from around the world and with copious illustrations, The Archaeology of Human Bones continues to be a crucial work for students of archaeology.
'Simon Mays has written a highly readable general introduction to the study of human remains, calling on his experience with early British material in particular.' - Don Brothwell, The Archaeological Journal
'This is a well-written and concise treatment of the potential offered by the study of human remains to aid archaeological inquiry.' - Society of Antiquaries
1. The Nature of Bones and Teeth 2. The Nature of an Archaeological Human Bone Assemblage 3. The Determination of Age and Sex 4. Metric Variation in the Skull 5. Metric Variation in the post-Cranial Skeleton 6. Non-metric Variation 7. Bone Disease 8. Dental Disease 9. Traces of Injury on the Skeleton 10. Stable Isotope Analysis 11. The Study of DNA from Skeletal Remains 12. Cremated Bone 13. Ethics and Human Remains