Spring 2013 Society for Archaeological Sciences Bulletin

This quarter’s bulletin for the Society of Archaeological Sciences in now available for free download online! In this issue, I discuss color on bones. You may remember that I have talked about bones of unusual color in a previous post. This article expands that discussion and examines three archaeological samples that revealed coloring on human skeletal remains. Here is the introductory paragraph:

“When bones are recovered in archaeological contexts, they are never the pure white ones you see in collections or on display. Nor are they always tinted brown from years in soil. Bones can be a number of colors including black, red, yellow, white or green. Sometimes the coloration can be due to natural processes within the soil, and sometimes they are an indicator of cultural activities. Color can be painted or stained directly onto the bone or can be placed on the skin and become imprinted on the skeleton following putrefaction. It can also be accidental but still due to the nature of the funerary rituals. Whenever a bone appears to have a difference in pigment, or there is variation in color between individuals in a similar area or on a single individual, we need to investigate the reasons behind it. Recently, the discussion of coloration has grown as research into new types and purposes of pigmentation are discovered. Three recent articles from the Journal of Archaeology Science discuss red, yellow and black color found on bones.”

You can read the complete bulletin article here: SAS Spring 2013 Bulletin

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