The Histotaphonomy of Human Skeletal Exposure within a Neolithic Long Cairn at Hazleton, UK

Author(s): Lynne Bell

Year: 2017


The total excavation of the Cotswold-Severn Neolithic long cairn at Hazleton was unusually meticulous and represents an excellent example of long term skeletal exposure. Some discussion exists around the nature of bodies prior to deposition in theses long cairn structures and histotaphonomy is here used to consider this question. The human remains at Hazleton were recovered from two spatially distinct stone-lined chambers in a highly disarticulated and commingled state. During excavation each element or fragment were individually numbered, totaling over 9000. Later anthropological assessment managed to re-associate partial individuals, permitting a spatial understanding of scattering within each chamber. Two individuals from each chamber were assessed microscopically using confocal and backscattered electron imaging, to identify the histotaphonomic changes and their spatial relationships. The results indicate that different trajectories for disarticulation and body status at the point of interment may shed light on burial practices i.e. was the body intact at the point of interment or not? This group exhibited no cut-marks, and so the commingling, which contemporaneously extended over a 300 year period of use, needs some discussion. The histotaphonomy indicated, in this case, that bodies were likely intact at the point of interment.

Cite this Record

The Histotaphonomy of Human Skeletal Exposure within a Neolithic Long Cairn at Hazleton, UK. Lynne Bell. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429249)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17405