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A Step-by-Step Guide to Excavating Burials, or how a Bioarchaeologist can be in Two (or Three) Places at Once

Author(s): Carolyn Freiwald

Year: 2017

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Summary

Bioarchaeologists often are faced with the challenge of managing field excavations and lab analyses of skeletal remains at the same time, along with student and staff training and curation of osteological remains. I present results from recent fieldwork at the Classic Maya sites Actuncan and San Lorenzo, Belize that were excavated using a method designed for non-osteologists. This includes complex burial deposits that were re-entered, secondary burials, and comingled and disturbed remains that seemed to require a highly experienced osteologist. Careful taphonomic observations reveal minute details about bones, burial grounds, and ancient Maya beliefs about death and the afterlife. The presentation includes a review of published excavation protocols, and then describes a variation that does not require the excavators to be osteological experts, meets the ethical obligations anthropologists have when excavating human remains, and illustrates some of the challenges faced by osteologists working with fragmentary remains in tropical environments.


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A Step-by-Step Guide to Excavating Burials, or how a Bioarchaeologist can be in Two (or Three) Places at Once. Carolyn Freiwald. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431469)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
Mesoamerica


Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16575

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