Osteoarchaeological Analysis

Osteological analysis is the scientific study of bones and teeth. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2018
A skeleton discovered during a research excavation at Fin Cop Iron Age hillfort in Derbyshire. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2018
Caitlin excavating one of the skeletons at Black Cat Quarry. © Copyright ARS Ltd

Human bone analysis, or osteology, is the scientific study of bones and teeth and is used to gain an insight into past peoples and societies. The purpose of examining a skeleton is to determine information such as the individual’s sex, age at death, cause of death, disease or ‘pathologies’ suffered during life, stress on the bones, trauma from breaks or combat, burial type and burial traditions. Together this information can be used to reconstruct the lifestyle of individuals. Analysis of a group of skeletons can be used to assess the skeletal ‘population’ as a whole in order to enhance our knowledge of what life was like in the past.

ARS Ltd provides a complete service that includes:

  • Advice on the excavation procedures of skeletons, the potential of further study and the treatment, storage and/or reburial of skeletons
  • Excavation of human skeletons
  • Laboratory analysis of human skeletons
  • Detailed counts of human bone, which are used to ascertain the “minimum number of individuals” present on the site
  • Production of a publication-standard reports including interpretation of the human bone evidence

All projects and reports are carried out in accordance with Historic England’s Human Bones from Archaeological Sites Guidelines (Brickley and McKinley 2004).

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