Why Study human remains?


Occasionally human remains are encountered on archaeological sites; often as lone burials and sometimes as formal cemeteries. These burials have to be removed prior to the development and it is the archaeologists job to do this with care and respect. 



We can then study the remains to ascertain age at death, sex, presence of any diseases or trauma and information on their diet (were they under nourished?). By doing this we learn about the life of the individual and the community they lived in, for example is there evidence of medical care after trauma and how were they buried by their community after death?


The study of human remains provide invaluable information about life for the average individual in historic times, as they are largely absent in the literary record.





The osteological staff at Abbey Archaeology are committed to the ethical treatment and analysis of human osteological remians and follow codes of conduct set out by BABAO (British Association of Biological Anthropologists and Osteoarchaeologists), CIFA (Chartered Institute for Archaeologists) and Historic England (Formerly English Heritage).


Services we offer



On Site:

Our osteological staff can advise on best practice for excavation and sampling to ensure that all bones are collected. We can also provide staff with previous osteological excavation experience to excavate and record the remains efficently.  


Analysis and reporting:

We assess the age and sex of the individuals, note the presence of any pathologies and trauma. non-metric traits and congenital defects are also observed as these can be used to ascertain genetic links (were people in the cemetery related?). A report is then produced on this information; larger assemblages may merit more formal publication.



Abbey Archaeology can help if you have staff who need basic training on recognition and identification of human bone or if you need help with osteological outreach at an event.



To arrange an osteological site visit; osteological excavators; commission a report or request training or outreach please Contact us

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