Behaviour in our Bones

Behaviour in our Bones

How Human Behaviour Influences Skeletal Morphology

1st Edition - January 16, 2023

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  • Editors: Cara Hirst, Rebecca Gilmour, Kimberly Plomp, Francisca Cardoso
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128213834

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Human bodies record and store vast amounts of information about the way we move, what we eat, where we live, and our experiences of health and socioeconomic circumstances. Behaviour in our Bones: How Human Behaviour Influences Skeletal Morphology explores how human physical and cultural actions and interactions can be read through careful biological anthropological analyses of skeletal human remains. This book explores the evidence for behaviour, from head to toe, with each chapter dedicated to a specific region of the human body. It offers an overview of how the skull, shoulder, thorax, pelvis, and the upper and lower limbs have been used to infer patterns of activity and other social and cultural behaviours. Chapter authors expertly summarise and critically discuss a range of methodological, theoretical, and interpretive approaches that biological anthropologists use to read skeletal remains and interpret a wide variety of behaviours, including tool use, locomotion, reproduction, health, pathology, and beyond.

Key Features

  • Bridges the gap between the basic concepts of the field and details to the reader how various methods can be employed to examine morphological differences and interpret the findings
  • Provides a comprehensive discussion of morphological changes to the skeletal related to human behaviors
  • Explains the basic concepts of bone remodelling and morphological variation before bringing together research from those currently working in the field to demonstrate how these concepts are applied
  • Reviews the analytical methods currently in use which is good as this is particularly confusing to students and would benefit from clarification. Includes a summary table at the end of each chapter detailing research discussed


Researchers with interests in skeletal biology, biological archaeology, biological anthropology, and human adaptation. Anthropology and biological archaeology higher education students, both Undergraduate and Masters, specifically individuals taking courses that include modules on human osteology and human adaptation

Table of Contents

  • 1. Introduction
    2. Bone Remodelling
    3. Methods
    4. Social Complexity and the Cranium 
    5. Diet and the Mandible
    6. Occupation and the shoulder
    7. Weaponry and the Humerus
    8. Tool use and the hand
    9. Childbirth and the Pelvis
    10. Horse riding and the Pelvis
    11. Subsistence, sedentism, and the long bones
    12. Locomotion and the foot 
    13. Injury, care, and skeletal asymmetry
    14. Behaviour under the microscope: Bone microstructure
    15. Looking for the future in our bones

Product details

  • No. of pages: 295
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Elsevier 2023
  • Published: January 16, 2023
  • Imprint: Elsevier
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128213834

About the Editors

Cara Hirst

Dr. Cara Hirst earned her PhD in Dental and Skeletal Bioarchaeology from University College London. Her research focuses on bone remodelling and biomechanical alterations to the human skeleton and inference of behaviour and activity from skeletal morphology. While her specialty is 3D geometric morphometrics and human mandibular morphology, she is interested in a range of methods and behaviours which may be inferred from skeletal morphology. She has presented at numerous conferences and published research papers and chapters for edited books.

Affiliations and Expertise

Researcher, Dental and Skeletal Bioarchaeology, University College London, UK

Rebecca Gilmour

Kimberly Plomp

Francisca Cardoso

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