What Can Bog Bodies Tell Us About Religion and Society in Iron Age Europe?

Topics: Archaeology, Forensic science, Forensic archaeology Pages: 6 (1871 words) Published: February 27, 2013
In this essay, I have chosen to analyse human osteology in forensic and archaeological studies, covering certain techniques and methods which are involved and also going through different time scales in which explains how forensics and archaeology itself has rapidly progressed over the period of time. First of all, human Osteology is the study of human bones. There are three areas in which knowledge of human osteology is often applied. Scientists perform the investigations and employ their knowledge of the human skeleton in recovering and interpreting the bones. The work behind Osteology is often aimed at the identity of the relatively recently deceased and it’s usually done in legal context. Through this work most often a court of law, is called forensic osteology is a division of forensic anthropology. (White et al., 2011, p. 1)

It has recently become fashionable to refer to the study of human remains from archaeological context as ‘bioarchaeology.’ Archaeologists concentrate on cultural remains of former human occupations, but they stand to gain a great deal of valuable information from skeletal remains of the ancient inhabitants. The goal of forensic osteology often involves identification of an unknown individual. The process of personally identifying the remains of the recently dead individually is called ‘individuation.’ However human osteologists working in archaeological contexts usually cannot perform such personal identification. (White et al., 2011)

To get to the grips of human osteology, the whole genre lies between forensic anthropology, which is the field of study that deals with the analysis of human skeletal remains resulting from unexplained deaths. Anthropology itself is the study of biological and cultural aspects of all humans in all places in all times. Biological anthropology is the subdivision of discipline, the study of biological evolution and the development of humans. (Byers N. Steven 2001) Since the 1970’s the discipline of forensic archaeology received recognition for its contribution to crime scene and death investigations. There’s an emphasis on the use of proper archaeological field methods when recovering and excavating human remains from forensic context in 1980’s. (www.crcnetbase.com /Forensic recovery of human remains -2011) However proper archaeological methods are still not practiced universally by forensic anthropologists and crime scene personnel, the continued emphasis in this area throughout the 1990’s, forensic archaeology being recognised as its own discipline. (www.crcnetbase.com/Archaeological Approaches - 2005)

Forensic anthropologists are frequently asked ‘’are these remains human or nonhuman?’’ A number of approaches and techniques can be used to determine the origin of skeletal material in order to answer this question. In the UK, physical anthropologists are frequently called upon to determine whether bones found by civilians, often dug up in their gardens, are human or not, and this is normally a difficult process for anthropology, because each approach to technique has both benefits and limitations depending on the condition of the bone and the circumstances under which it is found. (Fergurson and Black, 2011)

Linking back to the similarities of Forensic and Archaeological work; At investigations scenes, there is a high similarity on the methodology between the recording methods that are used by the exhibits officers and that used by archaeologists; both need to be able to identify and retrieve specific items, and both need to be able to demonstrate the integrity of the material in their possession. During crime scenes, nothing is moved without first noting its positions and marking it for later identification. (Hunter et al., 1996)

In Archaeological and forensic science, the principle of the archaeologist as a detective restoring together the different elements of the past has been used many times. Techniques that are applied in crime scene...
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