The Discovery, Interpretation and Repatriation of Human Remains

1st Edition - November 18, 2021
  • Author: Susan Pfeiffer
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128238813
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128238806

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Osteobiographies: The Discovery, Interpretation and Repatriation of Human Remains contextualizes repatriation, or the transfer of authority for human skeletal remains from the perspective of bioarchaelogists and evolutionary biologists. It approaches repatriation from a global perspective, touching upon the most well-known Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) legislation of the United States, while also covering Canada and African countries. The book focuses on the stories behind human skeletons, analyzing their biological factors to determine evolution patterns. Sections present an overview of anatomy, genomics, and stable isotopes from dietary and environmental factors, and how to identify these in skeletal remains. The book then goes on to discuss European-origin, North American, and African paleopathology, ancient DNA links, and cultural issues and implications around repatriation. It concludes with case studies to show how information from archaeologically derived skeletons is vital to understanding human evolution and provide respectful histories behind the remains.

Key Features

  • Offers novel research and perspectives on the importance of skeletal remains on a global scale
  • Identifies and distinguishes how genomics, biological factors and burial methods can be used to track human evolution through bones
  • Addresses cultural differences over the human remains movement and repatriation, specifically between Europe and Africa


Bioarchaeologists, evolutionary biologists, and anthropologists. Undergraduate or graduate students in evolutionary biology, anthropology, and archaeology fields

Table of Contents

  • 1. Bioarchaeology and Osteobiography
    2. Bones and Teeth: Anatomy, Genomics, and Stable Isotopes
    3. European-Origin and Recent Remain Burial Models
    4. Discovery and Excavation
    5. Observation and Disposition
    6. North American Indigenous Community Burial Models
    7. Overview: Biological and Anthropological Background
    8. Bone Pathology and Early Ancient DNA Studies of Tuberculosis in North America, Pre-European Settlement
    9. Repatriation of Canadian First Nation Remains and Collaborative Research
    10. African Indigenous Burials
    11. Case Study on the People of Lake Turkana, Kenya (5,000 Years)
    12. South African Coastal Foragers: Linking Osteobiography to History, Ethnography, Bioarchaeology, and Genomics
    13. Skeletal Evidence of Interpersonal Violence, Population Growth, and Climate Change
    14. International Repatriation: Reclaiming "Race Science" Skeletal Exports from Europe to Africa
    15. Conclusion: Biological and Archaeological Importance

Product details

  • No. of pages: 228
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2021
  • Published: November 18, 2021
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128238813
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128238806

About the Author

Susan Pfeiffer

Dr. Susan K. Pfeiffer is a Professor Emerita in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto. She received her Ph.D. at the University of Toronto, developing her thesis on the skeletal biology of archaic populations of the Great Lakes Region. Dr. Pfeiffer is also a Research Professor at the Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology at George Washington University, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and part of the Community of Experts for the European Science Foundation. She has published numerous book chapters and journal articles on skeletal biology, evolution, histology, and human remain archaeology.

Affiliations and Expertise

Professor Emerita, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto, Canada