The Routledge Handbook of Archaeothanatology : Bioarchaeology of Mortuary Behaviour book cover
1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of Archaeothanatology
Bioarchaeology of Mortuary Behaviour

ISBN 9781138492424
Published April 29, 2022 by Routledge
768 Pages 220 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The Routledge Handbook of Archaeothanatology spans the gap between archaeology and biological anthropology, the field and laboratory, and between francophone and anglophone funerary archaeological approaches to the remains of the dead and the understanding of societies, past and present.

Interest in archaeothanatology has grown considerably in recent years in English-language scholarship. This timely publication moves away from anecdotal case studies to offer syntheses of archaeothanatological approaches with an eye to higher-level inferences about funerary behaviour and its meaning in the past. Written by francophone scholars who have contributed to the development of the field and anglophone scholars inspired by the approach, this volume offers detailed insight into the background and development of archaeothanatology, its theory, methods, applications, and its most recent advances, with a lexicon of related vocabulary.

This volume is a key source for archaeo-anthropologists and bioarchaeologists. It will benefit researchers, lecturers, practitioners and students in biological anthropology, archaeology, taphonomy and forensic science. Given the interdisciplinary nature of these disciplines, and the emphasis placed on analysis in situ, this book will also be of interest to specialists in entomology, (micro)biology and soil science.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Archaeothanatology, funerary archaeology and bioarchaeology: perspectives on the long view of death and the dead

 Christopher J. Knüsel and Eline M.J. Schotsmans

Part I: Archaeothanatology – methodological guidelines

1. Methodological guidelines for archaeothanatological practice

Frédérique Blaizot

2. A tale of two worlds: Terminologies in archaeothanatology

Bruno Boulestin

3. Words between two worlds: Collective graves and related issues in burial terminology

Bruno Boulestin and Patrice Courtaud

4. Secondary cremation burials of past populations: Some methodological procedures for excavation, bone fragment identification and sex determination

Germaine Depierre

5. The accompanying dead

Bruno Boulestin

6. Denied funeral rites: The contribution of the archaeothanatological approach

Aurore Schmitt

Part II: Period-specific applications

7. Early primary burials: Evidence from Southwestern Asia

Anne-marie Tillier

8. The earliest European burials

Bruno Maureille

9. Beyond the formal analysis of funerary practices? Archaeothanatology as a reflexive tool for considering the role of the dead amongst the living: A Natufian case study

Fanny Bocquentin

10. What can archaeothanatology add? A case study of new knowledge and theoretical implications in the re-study of Mesolithic burials in Sweden and Denmark

Liv Nilsson Stutz

11. Neolithic burials of infants and children

Mélie Le Roy and Stéphane Rottier

12. Defining collective burials: Three case studies

Aurore Schmitt

13. Different burial types but common practice: The case of the funerary complex at Barbuise and La Saulsotte (France) at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age

Stéphane Rottier

14. Deathways of the Durotriges: Reconstructing identity through archaeothanatology in later Iron Age southern Britain

Karina Gerdau-Radonić, Janne Sperrevik, Martin Smith, Paul Cheetham, and Miles Russell

15. The Roman cemetery of Porta Nocera at Pompeii: The contribution of osteological re-associations to the study of secondary cremation burials

Henri Duday

16. Reopening graves for the removal of objects and bones: Cultural practices and looting

Edeltraud Aspöck, Karina Gerdau-Radonić, and Astrid Noterman

17. Cluniac funerary practices

Eleanor Williams

18. ‘Bring out your dead’: Funerary and public health practices in times of epidemic disease

Dominique Castex and Sacha Kacki

19. Jewish funerary practices in Medieval Europe

Philippe Blanchard

20. Islamic burials: Muslim graves and graves of Muslims

Yves Gleize

21. Recognising a slave cemetery: An example from colonial-period Guadeloupe, Lesser Antilles

Patrice Courtaud and Thomas Romon

Part III: Archaeothanatology of associated remains

22. Archaeothanatological approaches to associated remains in funerary contexts in Europe: An overview

Isabelle Cartron and Aurélie Zemour

23. An archaeothanatological approach to the identification of Late Anglo-Saxon burials in wooden containers

Emma C. Green

24. Ceramic studies in funerary contexts from Roman Gaul

Christine Bonnet

25. Animal remains in burials

Patrice Méniel

26. The walking dead – life after death: Archaeoentomological evidence in a Roman catacomb (Saints Marcellinus and Peter, central area, 1st-3rd century AD)

Jean-Bernard Huchet and Dominique Castex

Part IV: Applied sciences, experiments and legal considerations

27. From flesh to bone: Building bridges between taphonomy, archaeothanatology and forensic science for a better understanding of mortuary practices

Eline M.J. Schotsmans, Patrice Georges-Zimmerman, Maiken Ueland, and Boyd B. Dent

28. Exploring the use of actualistic forensic taphonomy in the study of (forensic) archaeological human burials: An actualistic experimental research programme at the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State University (FACTS), San Marcos, Texas

Hayley L. Mickleburgh, Daniel J. Wescott, Sarah Gluschitz, and M. Victor Klinkenberg

29. An experimental approach to the interpretation of prehistoric cremation and cremation burials

Mogens B. Henriksen

30. The taphonomic and archaeothanatological potentials of diagenetic alterations of archaeological bone

Thomas J. Booth, David Brönniman, Richard Madgwick, and Cordula Portmann

31. 3D models as useful tools in archaeothanatology

Géraldine Sachau-Carcel

32. Use of archaeothanatology in preventive (salvage/rescue) archaeology and field research archaeology

Mark Guillon

33. Managing and reburying ancient human remains in France: From legal and ethical concerns to field practices

Gaëlle Clavandier

Part V: Lexicon of archaeothanatological terms

34. Lexicon of terms used in archaeothanatology: A work still in the process of becoming

Christopher J. Knüsel, Karina Gerdau-Radonić, and Eline M.J. Schotsmans

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Christopher J. Knüsel is Professor of Biological Anthropology, University of Bordeaux, France. His research centres on the use of biological anthropological data within its archaeological context to address social relations in the past, including specifically violence and warfare and morphological changes linked to specialisation. With Martin J. Smith, he co-edited and contributed to The Routledge Handbook of the Bioarchaeology of Human Conflict (2014).

Eline M.J. Schotsmans is a research fellow at the University of Bordeaux, France, and the University of Wollongong, Australia. Her research lies at the interface between archaeoanthropology and forensic sciences with a focus on mortuary sequences, preservation practices, taphonomy and method development through experimentation. Her positions in France, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Australia helped to broaden her perspective of francophone and anglophone funerary archaeological approaches.


'For too long, language has divided French and English-speaking researchers over approaches to the archaeology of death. This very substantial volume brings them together for the first time in a major endeavour which reveals the range and potential of archaeothanatological approaches.'

Mike Parker Pearson, University College London, United Kingdom

'Harking back on many decades of evolving archaeothanatology in action, this book certainly sets a new global standard both in burial excavations and depositional reconstructions of human skeletal remains and their contexts.'

Vera Tiesler, Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Mexico