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Combining forensic anthropological and geological approaches to investigate the preservation of human remains in British archaeological populations and their effects on palaeodemography

Davenport, CAL (2018) Combining forensic anthropological and geological approaches to investigate the preservation of human remains in British archaeological populations and their effects on palaeodemography. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Abstract

Palaeodemographic studies enable the lifespan and health of a population to be studied and subsequent influences deduced from the analysis of biological profiling data. The aim of this research was to produce the demographic profiles for the medieval sites of Poulton Chapel and St Owens, Gloucester. Comparisons with previously published sites would allow a comparison between the demographic profiles from rural and urban populations. Taphonomic and cultural factors have been listed amongst the causes for the lack of material available for osteological analysis, and the subsequent under-representation of certain age within a population. Although commented on in published literature, there has been no research into the degradation of the human skeleton, with many projects focussing only on the soft tissue decomposition rates and factors. Using a combination of techniques from forensic anthropology and geology, the collections were analysed using traditional palaeodemographic life tables and the sites subjected to geoarchaeological investigation. This enabled not only the preservation of the skeletal remains to be observed under differing burial conditions, but incorporated the use of archaeothanatology to understand the cultural practices undergone during the time of burial. This PhD thesis found that soil pH was not the biggest influencer on the potential preservation of a skeleton, but the cultural practices behind the burial itself. By combining techniques from forensic anthropology, geoarchaeology and geochemistry, greater insights into the effects of taphonomic and cultural influences on the preservation of human skeletal remains are found. This has enabled the questions into what influences the ability to produce a demographic profile to be answered, which will encourage the use of multidisciplinary studies when investigating cemetery samples.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Forensic Anthropology; Geoarchaeology; Geochemistry; Palaeodemography; Archaeology; Preservation; Human Remains
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
Divisions: Natural Sciences and Psychology
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2018 08:45
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2018 08:53
DOI or Identification number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00008821
Supervisors: Gonzalez, S, Borrini, M and Kiriakoulakis, K
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/8821

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