Document Detail

Recovery of human skeletal elements from a recent UK murder inquiry: preservational signatures.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  10486946     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Factors that control bone preservation are not fully understood but generally include those that reflect "natural" taphonomic or diagenetic processes and also those reflecting anthropogenic activity. The aim of this paper is to examine whether the survival of skeletal elements from a recent UK serial murder investigation (n = 12) and three archaeological cemetery sites from England (n = 112, 95, 182; Roman to early-medieval), share a similar recovery signature. Examination of this data demonstrates that even when clear evidence of traumatic and perimortem dismemberment exists within an assemblage, the distribution of missing elements can be almost identical to archaeological material buried in normal attrition cemeteries. Given that these preservational signatures are so similar, it is concluded that careful observation of bone surfaces is necessary to confidently interpret bone loss, particularly where dismemberment and/or element excision is suggested by the non-anatomical position of the skeleton within the grave. Where postmortem excision of bone is suspected, careful examination of contiguous bone surfaces, both macroscopic and microscopic, is suggested to detect fine cutmark lesions indicative of anthropogenic excision. Without this evidence other preservational factors must be considered both taphonomic and diagenetic.
M Cox; L Bell
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Comparative Study; Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Journal of forensic sciences     Volume:  44     ISSN:  0022-1198     ISO Abbreviation:  J. Forensic Sci.     Publication Date:  1999 Sep 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1999-09-30     Completed Date:  1999-09-30     Revised Date:  2009-09-29    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0375370     Medline TA:  J Forensic Sci     Country:  UNITED STATES    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  945-50     Citation Subset:  IM    
School of Conservation Sciences, Bournemouth University, Poole, UK.
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MeSH Terms
Bone and Bones / pathology*
Forensic Anthropology / methods*
Great Britain
Postmortem Changes*
Grant Support
//Wellcome Trust

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