Session: #282

Theme & Session Format

Digital archaeology, science and multidisciplinarity: new methods, new challenges
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

New Developments in the Bioarchaeological Study of Cremated Bone
Throughout time and space, human societies have and still are treating their dead in various ways, including cremation of the deceased. As the burning of the body is only one part of the process, funerary rites as a whole can vary significantly, offering a unique insight into the beliefs and habits of different societies. Even though cremated remains are relatively common find in the archaeological record, reasons behind the choice of specific ritual and its course remain largely unknown. Indeed, because of the very high temperature reached during cremation (up to 1000ÂșC and above), encountered remains are often incomplete and their physical and chemical structure highly altered. Consequently, it was believed for a long time, that only limited information can be extracted from cremated skeletal remains, leaving many blank pages in the archaeological records.

Inventing methodologies have demonstrated that various macroscopic, microscopic, spectroscopic, molecular and isotopic analyses of cremated remains can yield authentic results, improving our understanding of not only various aspects of cremation practices (e.g. pyre characteristics) and heat-induced changes in the remains, but also provide reliable substrate for radiocarbon dating, mobility studies, MNI evaluation and differentiation between animal and human remains in commingled assemblages, even enabling the application of ageing and sexing techniques.

This session aims at sharing the latest developments in the bioarchaeological study of cremated skeletal remains. We welcome papers focusing on experimental work and/or any analyses related to cremated skeletal remains from archaeological contexts, offering new or improved methodological practices and/or understanding of the cremation ritual.
Cremation, Isotopes, Osteoarchaeology, Bioarchaeology
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Main organiser:
Christophe Snoeck (Belgium) 1,2
Tamara Leskovar (Slovenia) 3
1. Vrije Universiteit Brussel
2. Université Libre de Bruxelles
3. University of Ljubljana