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Science and the Dead

Front cover for Science and the Dead

A Guideline for the Destructive Sampling of Archaeological Human Remains for Scientific Analysis

By Simon Mays, Joseph Elders, Louise Humphrey, William White, Peter Marshall

This guideline aims to provide a framework to help organisations responsible for the care of archaeological human remains in responding to requests from researchers for removal of bone or tooth samples for the purposes of scientific analysis. It describes some of the pertinent legal, ethical and scientific considerations involved.

Published by APABE, supported by English Heritage.

Find out more about the specialist advice English Heritage offers on human remains recovered from archaeological sites in England.


Executive Summary

1. Preamble

2. Overview of destructive sampling

3. Radiocarbon dating

4. Stable isotopes and ancient diets

5. Strontium and oxygen stable isotopes and geographic origins of people in the past

6. DNA

7. Bone histology

8. Case Studies

9. Procedures and terms of access for human remains: the example of Barton-Upon-Humber

10. Further Reading

11. Where to get advice

12. Acknowledgements

Additional Information

  • Series: Guidance
  • Publication Status: Completed
  • Product Code: 51801


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