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Bone in the burial environment.

Millard, AR



M Corfield

P Hinton

M Pollard


The survival of bones, and the information about the past which they carry, is dependent upon the nature of the burial environment and its interaction with bones. This paper reviews our knowledge of the preservation of bone, on scales ranging from the macroscopic to the atomic, and how preservation is affected by: (i) the inherent properties of bone, deriving from its nature as a mineral-organic composite; (ii) the treatment bones receive before burial, such as defleshing, cooking, or cremation; (iii) the interaction of the burial environment with buried bone, mediated by groundwater, and depending on groundwater chemistry, but also involving a variety of other parameters, including soil microbiology. After reviewing the influence of these factors, possible directions for future research into the interaction of bones with their environment are mapped out.

Publication Date 1998
Pages 93-102
Book Title Preserving archaeological remains in situ. London
Public URL