A Guide to the Macroscopic Study of Human Skeletal Remains

1st Edition - December 22, 2016

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  • Author: Efthymia Nikita
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780128040218
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128040973

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Osteoarchaeology: A Guide to the Macroscopic Study of Human Skeletal Remains covers the identification of bones and teeth, taphonomy, sex, ancestry assessment, age estimation, the analysis of biodistances, growth patterns and activity markers, and paleopathology. The book aims to familiarize the reader with the main applications of osteoarchaeology and provide the necessary knowledge required for the implementation of a broad range of osteological methods. It is ideal as a complement to existing textbooks used in upper level undergraduate and graduate courses on osteoarchaeology, human osteology, and, to some extent, forensic anthropology. Pedagogical features include ample illustrations, case study material, revision exercises, and a glossary. Additional features comprise macros that facilitate data processing and analysis, as well as an extensive chapter on applied statistics.

Key Features

  • 2018 PROSE Awards - Honorable Mention, Textbook/Social Services: Association of American Publishers
  • Contains coverage of nearly every aspect of human osteological macroscopic analysis
  • Presents detailed descriptions of the application of different methods
  • Includes a variety of online resources, including macros designed by the author for the calculation of the number of individuals in commingled assemblages, processing cranial landmarks and nonmetric traits, and more


Students studying bioarchaeology, osteoarchaeology, physical/biological anthropology, biology, archaeology both in undergraduate and graduate levels

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1. The Human Skeleton

    • 1.1. Bone Function
    • 1.2. Bone Classification
    • 1.3. Bone Structure
    • 1.4. Bone Composition and Cells
    • 1.5. Bone Growth and Development
    • 1.6. Planes of Reference and Directional Terms
    • 1.7. Bone Identification
    • 1.8. Teeth

    Chapter 2. Taphonomy

    • 2.1. Taphonomy in Archaeological and Forensic Contexts
    • 2.2. Decomposition Process
    • 2.3. Scavengers
    • 2.4. Human Agents
    • 2.5. Natural Environment
    • 2.6. Intrinsic Preservation Factors
    • 2.7. Commingling

    Chapter 3. Sex and Ancestry Assessment

    • 3.1. Sex Assessment
    • 3.2. Ancestry

    Chapter 4. Age Estimation

    • 4.1. Age Estimation
    • 4.2. Juveniles
    • 4.3. Adults

    Chapter 5. Biological Distance

    • 5.1. Metric Methods
    • 5.2. Nonmetric Traits
    • 5.3. R-Matrix Analysis

    Chapter 6. Growth Patterns

    • 6.1. Growth in Human Populations
    • 6.2. Growth Patterns as a Stress Marker
    • 6.3. Catch-Up and Catch-Down Growth
    • 6.4. Osteoarchaeological Applications
    • 6.5. Methodological Approaches
    • 6.6. Limitations of Growth Pattern Studies
    • 6.7. Stature Estimation
    • 6.8. Body Mass Estimation

    Chapter 7. Activity Patterns

    • 7.1. Entheseal Changes
    • 7.2. Long-Bone Cross-Sectional Geometric Properties
    • 7.3. Dental Wear

    Chapter 8. Pathological Conditions

    • 8.1. The Osteological Paradox
    • 8.2. Macroscopic Paleopathological Examination
    • 8.3. Developmental Anomalies
    • 8.4. Metabolic Diseases
    • 8.5. Hematopoietic Diseases
    • 8.6. Endocrine Disorders
    • 8.7. Infectious Diseases
    • 8.8. Tumors
    • 8.9. Trauma
    • 8.10. Joint Disease
    • 8.11. Dental Diseases
    • 8.12. Calculation of Disease Prevalence and Statistical Analysis

    Chapter 9. Statistical Methods in Human Osteology

    • 9.1. Basic Statistical Concepts
    • 9.2. Descriptive Statistics
    • 9.3. Inferential Statistics: Statistical Hypothesis Testing
    • 9.4. Tests of Significance Between Two Samples
    • 9.5. Statistical Tests Among Many Samples
    • 9.6. Tests for Categorical Data
    • 9.7. Data Modeling
    • 9.8. Correlation
    • 9.9. Multivariate Analysis

Product details

  • No. of pages: 462
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2017
  • Published: December 22, 2016
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780128040218
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128040973

About the Author

Efthymia Nikita

Dr Efthymia Nikita is an Assistant Professor at the Science and Technology in Archaeology Research Center, The Cyprus Institute, in Nicosia. She is a bioarchaeologist with an undergraduate degree in Archaeology (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki) and a PhD in Biological Anthropology (University of Cambridge). Her research aligns with biocultural approaches and seeks to provide insights into the activity, mobility, demography, health, and diet of past populations using macroscopic and microanalytical methods. Geographically, her projects span North Africa, Greece, and the United Kingdom, while, temporally, they cover prehistoric to medieval times. In addition, she is engaged in refining the available osteoarchaeological methodology by evaluating current methods and suggesting new approaches in the study of commingled remains, biodistances, and activity markers. Her research has received funding from European and American foundations and has resulted in more than 40 articles and book chapters.

Affiliations and Expertise

Assistant Professor, Science and Technology in Archaeology Research Center, The Cyprus Institute, Nicosia, Cyprus

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  • Marc Sun Feb 16 2020


    Very nice overview over the most important things in Osteoarchaeology with detailed descriptions and Pictures also for lectures. A Statistik Part at the end is a nice plus.

  • Zeb Tue Apr 17 2018

    very poor

    This is superficial and does not go into anything like the detail required for reasonable osteoarchaeological analysis. It is missing key aspects of the literature. Do not waste your money.