Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

Time Since Death in Bioarchaeology and Human Osteology

  • Shari Forbes
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_218

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...

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Further Reading

  1. Blau, S. & D. Ubelaker.(ed.) 2009. Handbook of forensic anthropology and archaeology. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.Google Scholar
  2. Haglund, W.D. & M.H. Sorg. 1997. Advances in forensic taphonomy: method, theory, and archaeological perspectives. Boca Raton: CRC Press.Google Scholar
  3. Hunter, J., C. Roberts & A. Martin. 1997. Studies in crime: an introduction to forensic archaeology. London: Routledge. Reprint.Google Scholar
  4. Tibbett, M. & D.O. Carter. 2008. Soil analysis in forensic taphonomy: chemical and biological effects of buried human remains. Boca Raton: CRC Press.Google Scholar
  5. Wieczorek, A. & W. Rosendahl. 2010.M ummies of the world: Munich: Prestel Verlag.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Forensic ScienceUniversity of Technology, SydneyBroadwayAustralia