Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

Taphonomy: Definition

  • Soren Blau
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_132

The term taphonomy (from the Greek taphos – τάφος – meaning burial and nomos, νόμος, meaning law) is defined as the study of the transition of plant and animal organisms after death from the biosphere (living surfaces) to the lithosphere (underground). Taphonomists study processes such as decomposition or burial that affect organisms after death and which ultimately result in animals and plants becoming part of the fossil record.


Further Reading

  1. Haglund, W.D. & M.H. Sorg. (ed.) Advances in forensic taphonomy: method, theory and archaeological perspectives. Boca Raton: CRC.Google Scholar
  2. Nawrocki, S.P. 2009. Forensic taphonomy, in S. Blau & D.H. Ubelaker (ed.) Handbook of forensic anthropology and archaeology: 284-294. California: Left Coast.Google Scholar
  3. Sorg, M.H., W.D. Haglund & J.A. Wren. 2012. Current research in forensic taphonomy, in D.C. Dirkmaat (ed.) A companion to forensic anthropology: 477-498. London: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Forensic MedicineVictorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, Monash UniversitySouthbankAustralia