Osteoarchaeological Analysis

Osteological analysis is the scientific study of bones and teeth. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2018
Decapitation burial with two skulls between legs
© Copyright ARS Ltd 2020

Osteoarchaeology is the study of human and animal skeletal remains found in archaeological contexts. Buried and cremated human bone can provide insights into diet, health, occupation, social status and migration of past societies as well as the environment, economy, mortuary practices and belief systems. Studying a human skeleton can provide information on the individual’s sex, age at death, cause of death, disease or ‘pathologies’ suffered during life, stress on the bones, trauma from breaks or combat, burial type and burial traditions and beliefs. Analysis of a group of skeletons can be used to assess the skeletal ‘population’ as a whole in order to enhance our knowledge of what life was like in the past. Similarly the study of animal bones has the ability to inform on subsistence, economy and farming practices of past populations. Bones are ideal material for radiocarbon dating and they can also be analysed for ancient DNA and stable isotopes which provide information on genetic relationships as well as where people were born, brought up and died.

We provide a complete osteological service:
  • Advice on the excavation procedures of skeletons, the potential of further study and the treatment, storage and/or reburial of skeletons, including laboratory excavation if the deposit is fragile
  • Field-based excavation and recording of human and animal skeletons and cremation deposits
  • Assessment and full analysis of human and animal bone including all types of inhumation or cremation
  • Production of publication standard osteological reports and accompanying photography
  • Presentations for the public
  • Facilitation, management and interpretation of stable isotope analysis, ancient DNA and radiocarbon dating of faunal remains
Archaeological Research Services Ltd