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Scales of Analysis and Modes of Interpretation in Osteobiography: An Example from the Dilmun Bioarchaeology Project

Author(s): Alexis Boutin

Year: 2017

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Summary

Bioarchaeologists have traditionally prioritized statistically significant patterns in large skeletal assemblages to document major biocultural trends in human populations. But in the last 15-20 years, the osteobiography approach has returned to favor, encouraging bioarchaeologists to focus on the specifics of the human scale, reconstruct an experiential prehistory, and restore an identity to those "genderless, faceless blobs" (Tringham 1991: 97) who people so many traditional interpretations of the past. My "Bioarchaeology of Personhood" model argues that alternative modes of interpreting osteobiographical data can provide a more humanizing view of past personhoods and can communicate effectively and accessibly with a broad range of academic and public audiences. Unlike the outlier-oriented, case study approach of decades past, osteobiographies should draw from – not substitute for – the context provided by population-based approaches. To illustrate these points, I will present a fictive osteobiographical narrative about a subject from ancient Bahrain, whose remains are studied by the Dilmun Bioarchaeology Project.


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Scales of Analysis and Modes of Interpretation in Osteobiography: An Example from the Dilmun Bioarchaeology Project. Alexis Boutin. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430627)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
West Asia


Spatial Coverage

min long: 25.225; min lat: 15.115 ; max long: 66.709; max lat: 45.583 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14826

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America