Introduction to The Skeletal Series
The Skeletal Series blog posts introduces the basic aspects and issues surrounding human skeletal remains in an archaeological context and provides a series of posts detailing the skeletal anatomy of each part of the human body (the head, the arm, the leg, etc.). One of the main aims of this site is to inform the general and interested audience of the skeletal system and to become familiar with the anatomy of each skeletal element. The second aim of this site is to introduce the audience as to what the human osteologist, or bioarchaeologist, can learn from the use of human remains from the archaeological and anthropological contexts. This includes studying individual skeletons and studying series of skeletons, from various temporal and geographical contexts.
Below is an excellent example of what looks like one skeleton found in a prehistoric archaeological context in Denmark. However careful examination reveals that two individuals are present: those of an adult individual and those of a neonate individual. Great care has been taken to record the skeletons in-situ in the photograph below. In human osteology (as in bioarchaeology and physical anthropology) great care must always be taken in the interpretation of the skeletal remains, as context, especially in archaeological and forensic situations, is often the key to understanding the remains themselves.
How the posts are ordered
The posts regarding the skeletal elements are generally ordered in the following manner:
A) A general introduction to the specific part of the body of under consideration, highlighting the general anatomy.
B) What to expect when excavating the skeletal elements in question and how to prepare.
C) The specific anatomical and skeletal landmarks of each element under discussion, including how to recognize and side elements with diagrams or photographs, where possible.
D) Finally, the post is followed up with a case presentation or a discussion to conclude the post and contextualize the information presented.
Although the skeletal anatomy is the main contingent of the posts (please see the list below), the musculature and anatomy are referenced where appropriate for a detailed understanding of the human body during life and for understanding the influence of soft anatomy’s impact on the skeletal anatomy. The later Skeletal Series posts will deal with specific aspects of how the human osteologist, or bioarchaeologist, analyses the skeleton to gain knowledge on past populations and human behaviour. This will include A) how to biologically sex an adult skeleton, B) how to estimate the age of a skeleton, and C) how to recognise the presence of basic skeletal palaeopathology that can be present on skeletal remains. Continue to read about the human skeleton by clicking the links below!
The Skeletal Series Posts
Part 13: How to Age a Human Skeleton (forthcoming)
Part 14: How to Sex a Human Skeleton (forthcoming)
Part 15: Palaeopathology Present in Bones (forthcoming)
N.B. Please bear in mind that some of these posts were written a while ago and will require some updating at a future date. I sincerely hope that these posts present a useful and interesting read, whilst also improving the general public knowledge of the human skeletal system. Up to date academic references are noted on each post explicitly and, where possible, whether that resource is open access. Within each of these academic references, with links provided to an article or book where possible, the reader will find much more detail on that specific aspect of human osteology and archaeology. Please enjoy and share!