Taphonomy in Bioarchaeology and Human Osteology

  • Shari ForbesEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-51726-1_137-2

Introduction

Classical Taphonomy

Traditionally, taphonomy was studied by paleontologists to interpret the processes that operate on organic remains that comprise a part of the fossil record. A major focus of taphonomy was to understand the effects of those processes in order to reconstruct the past as it pertains to a particular fossil assemblage (Shipman 1981). Years later, archaeologists began to study taphonomy in order to determine how and why floral and faunal remain accumulated and differentially preserved within the archaeological record. Interpretation of the postmortem, pre-, and post-burial histories of faunal assemblages is critical in determining their association with hominid activity and behavior. Archaeologists typically separate natural from cultural processes when identifying evidence of human interaction with faunal remains (Lyman 1994).

Various models of fossil assemblage formation have been proposed, depicting a general taphonomic history. The taphonomic history...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Allison, P.A. 1990. Decay processes. In Paleobiology: A synthesis, ed. D.E.G. Briggs and P.R. Crowther, 213–216. Oxford: Blackwell Science Ltd.Google Scholar
  2. Allison, P.A., and D.J. Bottjer. 2010. Taphonomy: Bias and process through time. In Taphonomy second edition: Process and bias through time. volume 32: Topics in geobiology, ed. P.A. Allison and D.J. Bottjer, 1–18. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  3. Allison, P.A., and D.E.G. Briggs. 1991. Taphonomy: Releasing the data locked in the fossil record. New York: Plenum.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Behrensmeyer, A.K. 1978. Taphonomic and ecologic information from bone weathering. Paleobiology 4: 150–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Behrensmeyer, A.K., and S.M. Kidwell. 1985. Taphonomy’s contribution to paleobiology. Paleobiology 11: 105–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Behrensmeyer, A.K., D. Western, and D.E. Dechant Boaz. 1979. New perspectives in vertebrate paleoecology from a recent bone assemblage. Paleobiology 5: 12–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bonnichsen, R., and M.H. Sorg. 1989. Bone modification. Orono: Center for the Study of First Americans.Google Scholar
  8. Brett, C.E. 1990. Destructive taphonomic processes and skeletal durability. In Paleobiology: A synthesis, ed. D.E.G. Briggs and P.R. Crowther, 223–226. Oxford: Blackwell Science Ltd.Google Scholar
  9. Efremov, I.A. 1940. Taphonomy: A new branch of paleontology. Pan-American Geologist 74: 81–93.Google Scholar
  10. Forbes, S.L. 2017. Body farms. Forensic Sci Med Pathol.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s12024-017-9924-z. Published online 25 September 2017.
  11. Haglund, W.D., and M.H. Sorg. 1997. Introduction to forensic taphonomy. In Forensic taphonomy: The postmortem fate of human remains, ed. W.D. Haglund and M.H. Sorg, 77–90. Boca Raton: CRC Press.Google Scholar
  12. Lyman, R.L. 1994. Vertebrate taphonomy, Cambridge manuals in archaeology series. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Marshall, L.G. 1989. Bone modification and “the laws of burial”. In Bone modification, ed. R. Bonnichsen and M.H. Sorg, 7–24. Orono: Center for the Study of First Americans.Google Scholar
  14. Martin, R.E. 1999. Taphonomy: A process approach, Cambridge paleobiology series. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Micozzi, M.S. 1991. Postmortem change in human and animal remains: A systematic approach. Springfield: Charles C. Thomas.Google Scholar
  16. Olson, E.C. 1980. Taphonomy: Its history and role in community evolution. In Fossils in the making: Vertebrate taphonomy and paleoecology, ed. A.K. Behrensmeyer and A.P. Hill, 5–19. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  17. Schotsmans, E.M.J., N. Marquez-Grant, and S.L. Forbes. 2017. Taphonomy of human remains: Forensic analysis of the dead and depositional environment. Oxford: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Shipman, P. 1981. Life history of a fossil: An introduction to taphonomy and paleoecology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Ubelaker, D.H. 1997. Taphonomic applications in forensic anthropology. In Forensic taphonomy: The postmortem fate of human remains, ed. W.D. Haglund and M.H. Sorg, 77–90. Boca Raton: CRC Press.Google Scholar
  20. Vidoli, G.M., D.W. Steadman, J.B. Devlin, and L.M. Jantz. 2017. History and development of the first anthropology research facility, Knoxville, Tennessee. In Taphonomy of human remains: Forensic analysis of the dead and the depositional environment, ed. E.M.J. Schotsmans, M. Marquez-Grant, and S.L. Forbes, 606–621. Oxford: Wiley.Google Scholar

Further Reading

  1. Behrensmeyer, A.K., and A.P. Hill. 1980. Fossils in the making: Vertebrate taphonomy and paleoecology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  2. Donovan, S.K. 1991. The process of fossilization. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Gifford, D.P. 1981. Taphonomy and paleoecology: A critical review of archaeology’s sister discipline. In Advances in archaeological method and theory, ed. M.B. Schiffer, vol. 4, 365–438. New York: Academic.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Haglund, W.D., and M.H. Sorg. 1997. Advances in forensic taphonomy: Method, theory, and archaeological perspectives. Boca Raton: CRC Press.Google Scholar
  5. Pokines, J.T., S.A. Symes, and C. Roper. 2013. Manual of forensic taphonomy. Boca Raton: CRC Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Tibbett, M., and D.O. Carter. 2008. Soil analysis in forensic taphonomy: Chemical and biological effects of buried human remains. Boca Raton: CRC Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Forensic ScienceUniversity of Technology SydneySydneyAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Soren Blau
    • 1
  • Luis Fondebrider
    • 2
  • Douglas H. Ubelaker
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Forensic MedicineVictorian Institute of Forensic Medicine / Monash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.The Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (Equipo Argentino de Antropología Forense, EAAF)Buenos AiresArgentina
  3. 3.National Museum of Natural HistorySmithsonian InstitutionWashingtonUSA