Archaeological anthropological and forensic recording of human remains

Chairs: David BIBBY, Germany | Ann DEGRAEVE, Belgium

Optima philosophia et sapientia est meditatio mortis

Last year’s session “Archaeology of Human remains – Burial Archaeology and Forensic Aspects” showed the potential of a forum where archaeologists, historians, fieldworkers, anthropologists and forensic scientists all come together to consider aspects of dealing with the dead common to all those disciplines. The exchange of methods, ideas and experiences proved fruitful to all present. It is therefore appropriate to continue this theme into 2013.

Papers concerning the archaeology, anthropology and forensics of human remains are invited. Subjects may include burials rights ranging from prehistoric through to modern times: Stone, Bronze or Iron Age practices, Roman or medieval burials grounds, church crypts, modern municipal cemeteries, Mass graves of warfare or genocide, experimental archaeology, studies of taphonomic processes as well as forensic reports, modern or historical disaster or crime scenes and/or traumatology serve as examples.

Special skills are expected of those dealing with human remains. Removing human remains from their “last resting place” has its own set of specifics calling not only for the appropriate respect in interaction with the “objects of interest” themselves but also for sensitive relations with all involved, however marginally. It is essential that all forms of interment are documented and treated correctly on site at the point of discovery and during further processing, should they realize their full information-potential for investigations in the fields of  physical anthropology, histology, radiological investigations, ancient DNA, trace element and stable isotope and chemical analysis etc.

Documentation is this year’s main theme. The focus will therefore be on the documentation of human remains. Specific documentation approaches tailored to addressing specific problems will be welcomed as will contributions describing the advantages of modern methods such as photogrammetry, SFM-techniques and various scanning or computer tomography techniques. Even well founded studies advocating “traditional” recording as the ultimo ratio for burial archaeology despite the widespread and ready availability of high tech methods are also of potential interest.