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Burning by numbers: a pilot study using quantitative petrography in the analysis of heat-induced alteration in burned bone

Carroll, E. L. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0012-9851 and Squires, K. E. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0565-9491 (2020) Burning by numbers: a pilot study using quantitative petrography in the analysis of heat-induced alteration in burned bone. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology. ISSN 1099-1212

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/oa.2902

Abstract/Summary

In the past, experimental research into the histomorphological examination of burned human bone has led to the creation of a criterion for assessing burning intensity, which can be used to infer firing conditions in both archaeological and forensic contexts. Current methods visually compare the microscopic alterations in burned bone with modern bone samples fired at known temperatures and durations. Despite the benefits of this approach, it is hindered by the use of qualitative analysis, which is subject to the expertise of the examiner. This paper reviews previous histomorphological studies of burned bone and presents a new protocol for producing burned bone thin-sections. It also introduces quantitative petrography as an alternative, statistical method for categorising burning intensity. Four categories of burning intensity were calculated based on the quantified heat-induced changes identified in a pilot study examining burned porcine bone. These categories were consistent with those produced using more traditional qualitative methods, demonstrating that the results produced in this pilot study are reliable. An inter-observer study showed the repeatability of this new method by both anthropologists and non-anthropologists.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
ID Code:91448
Publisher:Wiley

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