The Implications of Thermogenic Modification for Anthropological Recovery of Burned Bone

  • Meaghan Efford Learning & Teaching Centre
Keywords: archaeology, forensic anthropology, biological anthropology, burn trauma, bone, forensic medicine, bioarchaeology, osteology, biomechanics


Burn trauma is prevalent in both archaeological and forensic records. It causes thermogenic modifications that have implications for the discipline of anthropology. Anthropologists and medical professionals are frequently the experts called to address burn trauma cases, often in the role of forensic anthropologists. This project seeks to discuss the processes of burn trauma and the resulting changes, as well as how the professionals in the fields of archaeology, anthropology, and medicine are discussing the recovery and analysis of burned human remains. An experiment is used to demonstrate these changes and compare them to those documented by experts in the field. A literature review discusses the processes of burn trauma and the resulting thermogenic modifications that are seen in the scholarly literature on the topic. The author makes recommendations for future research, namely the inclusion of weight in the recorded factors during experimentation and continued research into the recovery of burned remains. The author argues that the bioarchaeological approach of forensic anthropology benefits from the combined experience of archaeologists, biological anthropologists, and medical experts who have a background in osteology and biomechanics.


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