Time Since Death in Bioarchaeology and Human Osteology

  • Shari ForbesEmail author
  • Maiken Ueland
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-51726-1_218-2

Introduction and Definition

Time since death (TSD) is defined as the time frame between death and discovery of an organism. When estimated in an archaeological context, this time frame may be referred to as time since deposition and in a forensic context can be termed postmortem interval. Time since death cannot be established with certainty and for this reason is provided as an estimate of the range of time encompassing the period when death occurred. A shorter postmortem interval is typically associated with a narrower time range, while a longer postmortem interval has a broader time range and includes a wider margin of error. Presently, there is no single indicator which provides a reliable or accurate measure of the time since death of an organism.

Key Issues and Current Debates

Current Methods for Estimating Time Since Death

In a forensic investigation, the most reliable estimates of time since death are based upon observations and measurements made by a forensic pathologist...


Bioarchaeology Human Osteology Adipocere Formation Perimortem Trauma Livor Mortis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
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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