The Role of the Human Osteologist in an Archaeological Fieldwork Project

Human skeletal remains are a rich source of evidence about our past, and scientific advances are rapidly increasing the data available. The excavation and treatment of human remains involves ethical sensitivities and legal considerations over and above those in other areas of archaeology. The involvement of a human osteologist is therefore central to the success of an archaeological project involving human remains.

This guideline describes the Project Osteologist’s role, from project planning to dissemination of results and archiving of remains. The intended audience is human osteologists, project managers and other professionals involved in archaeological fieldwork projects that yield human remains.

This edition is published in association with The British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology. This document replaces 'Human Bones From Archaeological Sites: Guidelines for Producing Assessment Documents and Analytical Reports’ (Mays et al, 2002).


  • Introduction
  • The archaeological fieldwork project
  • Project planning
  • Excavation
  • The assessment phase
  • The analysis phase
  • Dissemination and archiving
  • Case studies
  • References
  • Further reading
  • Where to get advice

Additional Information

  • Series: Guidance
  • Publication Status: Completed
  • Pages: 48
  • Product Code: HEAG263


If you require an alternative, accessible version of this document (for instance in audio, Braille or large print) please contact us:

Customer Service Department

Telephone: 0370 333 0607
Email: [email protected]