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New Approaches to Burnt Human Bones and Teeth: The bioarchaeology of cremations and tooth cementum annulation
November 15 @ 17:30 - November 17 @ 17:00
The potential of studying cremated remains for insights into the past has traditionally been seen as rather limited. The process of burning the dead destroys many of the features usually studied in skeletons; Bronze and Iron Age research has therefore centred on the transformative and ritual aspects of the funerary practice. New bioarchaeological approaches, however, have recently opened up exciting opportunities for extracting information from the cremated individual: C14-dating, isotope and DNA analyses, tooth cementum annulation and metric approaches to sexing have expanded the methodological toolkit. This workshop aims to reflect on these new scientific approaches to cremated human bones and the way new data will inform archaeological narratives of the past.
Tooth cementum annulation is one of the methods with potential for cremated bones, but it is also useful for skeletonised bodies from inhumation graves. That the analysis of thin sections through the dental roots provides insights into age at death of the buried individual is well established. Current research focuses at using tooth cementum analysis to investigate the season of death as well as periods of stress and extraordinary life events. The second part of this workshop will explore this methodological avenue in greater depth.
This workshop is jointly organised by the ERC project “The Value of Mothers to Society” and Urnfield Culture Networks, a discussion forum for research on the Late Bronze Age (13th to 8th centuries BC) in Europe. In addition to the traditional format of lectures, a hands-on element will enable participants to examine thin sections of teeth under the microscope. The format combines a public keynote lecture on Wednesday evening, 15 November, with one day of lectures on new approaches to analysing cremated bones (Thursday), one half day of lectures on tooth cementum analysis and a practical/excursion to the Medical University of Vienna and the Natural History Museum in Vienna (Friday).