© 2017

New Developments in the Bioarchaeology of Care

Further Case Studies and Expanded Theory

  • Lorna Tilley
  • Alecia A. Schrenk


  • Provides content that stimulates wide discussion and experimentation around the topic of health-related caregiving in the past

  • Includes primary research and reflective commentary and theory development on all aspects of past caregiving

  • Discusses the development of collaborative and cross-disciplinary research projects


Part of the Bioarchaeology and Social Theory book series (BST)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xix
  2. Lorna Tilley, Alecia A. Schrenk
    Pages 1-10
  3. Case Studies: Applying and Adapting the Bioarchaeology of Care Methodology

  4. New Directions for Bioarchaeology of Care Research

  5. Ethics and Accountability in the Bioarchaeology of Care

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 317-317

About this book


New Developments in the Bioarchaeology of Care evaluates, refines and expands existing concepts and practices in the developing field of bioarchaeological research into health-related care provision in the past.
Evidence in human remains that indicates an individual survived with, or following, a serious pathology suggests this person most likely received some form of care from others. This observation was first made half a century ago, but it is only in the last five years that health-related caregiving has been accepted as a topic for bioarchaeology research. In this time, interest has grown exponentially. A focus on care provides a dynamic framework for examining the experiences of disease and disability in the past - at the level of the individual receiving care, and that of the community providing it. When caregiving can be identified in the archaeological record, bioarchaeologists may be able to offer unique insights into aspects of past lifeways.
This volume represents the work of an international, diverse, cross-disciplinary group of contributors, each bringing their own particular focus, style and expertise to analyzing past health-related care. Nineteen chapters offer content that ranges from an introduction to the basic 'bioarchaeology of care' approach, through original case studies of care provision, to new theoretical perspectives in this emerging area of scholarship. This book creates a synergy that challenges our thinking about past health-related care behaviors and about the implications of these behaviors for understanding the social environment in which they took place.


past health-related care provision determining caregiving in preserved human soft tissue (mummy) healthcare provision in antiquity multidisciplinary approach to bioarchaeology of care digital technologies and bioarchaeology of care analysis interpreting the experience of disability in archaeology health-related caregiving in the past

Editors and affiliations

  • Lorna Tilley
    • 1
  • Alecia A. Schrenk
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Archaeology and AnthropologyAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Nevada, Las VegasLas VegasUSA

About the editors

Lorna Tilley came to archaeology with an honours degree in psychology and work experience in areas of health practice, health status and health outcomes assessment, and health policy development.  She she was awarded a Graduate Diploma in Archaeology from the Australian National University in 2006, and a PhD from the same institution in 2013.  She has been sole or primary author of several articles on the bioarchaeology of care approach; the first of these (Tilley and Oxenham 2011) was awarded Most Influential Paper (2011-2015) by the International Journal of Paleopathology in April 2015.  Her book Theory and Practice in the Bioarchaeology of Care (based on her PhD dissertation) was published by Springer in September 2015.


Alecia Schrenk has a MA in Bioarchaeology and is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Department of Anthropology. She has co-organized a symposium focusing on the Index of Care and furthering Bioarchaeology of Care methodology at the Society for American Archaeology 2015 Annual Meeting. She has recently published research on an 18-20 year old female with paraplegia from Bronze Age Tell Abraq, using isotopic analysis to give a perspective on the role that immigration and mobility may have on increased risk of disease and healthcare (Differential diagnosis of a progressive neuromuscular disorder using bioarchaeological and biogeochemical evidence from a bronze age skeleton in the UAE). Her research interests include paleopathology, bioarchaeology of care, the Index of Care, subadult health, and mortuary practices.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title New Developments in the Bioarchaeology of Care
  • Book Subtitle Further Case Studies and Expanded Theory
  • Editors Lorna Tilley
    Alecia A. Schrenk
  • Series Title Bioarchaeology and Social Theory
  • Series Abbreviated Title Bioarch. Soc. Theo.
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences Social Sciences (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-39900-3
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-319-81994-5
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-39901-0
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XIX, 385
  • Number of Illustrations 46 b/w illustrations, 36 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Archaeology
    Public Health
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“The book is well structured and there is a good balance of case studies applying the approaches developed within the Bioarchaeology of Care. … The book presents new research in the Bioarchaeology of Care … . Not only does this book serve as a reference for the application of the Bioarchaeology of Care methodology but it also demonstrates that the discipline is in good shape.” (Marta Díaz-Zorita Bonilla, European Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 23 (2), 2020)

“This edited volume demonstrates a maturing of the bioarchaeology of care paradigm, highlighting nuanced, careful theorizing and new avenues of exploration. … these chapters demonstrate that when this perspective is applied cross-culturally, bioarchaeologists will bring a critical, self-reflexive approach to the analysis and interpretation of results, thereby deepening the intellectual rigor and the value of this paradigm. This edited volume claims a space for this approach in bioarchaeology, and it is a welcome addition to the literature on this topic.” (Gwen Robbins Schug, Journal of Anthropological Research, Vol. 74 (3), 2018)

“Perhaps the most interesting bioarchaeological session to come out of a recent Society for American Archaeology conference symposium has now been published as an edited volume. … the collection lays bare the methodology behind the case studies in a way that encourages other researchers to employ it as well. … this volume represents an extremely successful collection of essays that should be on any archaeologist’s bookshelf.” (Kristina Killgrove, American Antiquity, Vol. 83 (2), 2018)

“I found this book to be a wonderful contribution to not only paleopathology, but the broader discipline of bioarchaeology and anthropology. It offers new depth to the bioarchaeology of care by providing diverse case studies … . It examines case studies from across the globe and addresses groups that bioarchaeologists often find challenging. … Tilley and A. Schrenk’s volume is well-organized and effectively contributes to and expands on the bioarchaeology of care.” (Carlina de la Cova, International Journal of Paleopathology, Vol. 17, 2017)

“This is an important and timely addition to the literature on the individual in prehistoric and early historic societies. Many new approaches and techniques are being deployed to illuminate the human past through the remains of the actors themselves. … Here is a volume that clearly documents the relevance of this approach to the past.” (Beatrice Hale, Ageing & Society, Vol.  37, 2017)

“The 19 chapters cover topics including the explanation of the ‘bioarchaeology of care’ approach, case studies of care from different parts of the world and over time, and new theoretical developments in the field and the ethical dimensions of such research. … will be required reading for any academic or postgraduate in the field.” (Siân E. Halcrow, Antiquity, Vol. 91 (358), August, 2017)