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Bioanthropological Investigations of Historic Cemeteries: What Can We Learn From Biological, Cultural, and Mortuary Remains

Author(s): Alexandra Bybee

Year: 2003

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Fueled primarily by urban development, the recent past has seen an increasing demand for the relocation of historic and modern cemeteries. These cemeteries hold clues to the past lives of America's earliest populations, the free and enslaved, the wealthy and poor, and the healthy and diseased. Bioanthropological investigations of historic cemeteries have the potential to provide a variety of information on the biological, cultural, and mortuary aspects of these populations. On a personal level, bioanthropology allows for an interpretation of lifetime events and, on a larger scale, provides a demographic and sociological history of a past population. This paper will discuss the types

of information that can be determined through studies of historic cemeteries and provide a synopsis of methodological approaches for the recovery of data during the excavation and analysis of human remains and associated material culture. As Clark Spencer Larsen states, bioarchaeology centers on the lives and lifestyles of past people, with skeletal remains providing insights into health and well being, dietary history, activity, violence and trauma, ancestry, and demography (2002:abstract). In addition to these facets of the lives of past people, study of associated mortuary and cultural material provide a glimpse into past funerary ideologies and allows for interpretations regarding socioeconomic factors and personal relationships.

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Bioanthropological Investigations of Historic Cemeteries: What Can We Learn From Biological, Cultural, and Mortuary Remains. Alexandra Bybee. Presented at 5th Annual Council for West Virginia Archaeology Spring Workshop. 2003 ( tDAR id: 378247) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8319VC6



Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Charles Niquette

Project Director(s): Charles Niquette

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  Name Size Creation Date Date Uploaded Access
crai-bybee.pdf 74.61kb Oct 8, 2012 10:50:04 AM Public
Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America