Interesting in learning more about mortuary archaeology? Need to figure out what book to buy to learn more about human remains? Want some fun readings on dark and death-related topics?
You can now check out the Bones Don’t Lie Store, part of the Amazon Affiliates Program. These books have been hand selected by me. They include resources for learning more about the discipline of bioarchaeology, mortuary archaeology or forensics, and more popular fun readings on forensics case studies, fictional accounts of bioarchaeology, and interesting reads from the funeral business.
In addition to having great mortuary related reads all in one place, if you purchase from the store you are directly supporting Bones Don’t Lie. While the this news and commentary featured here is free to you, it does take time and effort to maintain. By purchasing your morbid and mortuary books through Bones Don’t Lie, you support the continuation of high quality content here!
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Bones Don’t Lie Top 5- Academic
These are my current top 5 recommended books for those wanting to learn more about mortuary archaeology and bioarchaeology.
1.Interacting with the Dead: Perspectives on Mortuary Archaeology for the New Millennium. Rakita and Buikstra, eds. 2006: I absolutely love this book. It reviews the history of the discipline, introduces some new approaches towards mortuary studies, and has some fantastic articles about interesting funerary sites. I consistently reference this book or chapters from it in the papers I’m writing, the presentations I make, and even my blog posts.
2. Archaeology of the Dead: Studies in Funerary Archaeology. Duday. 2009: This is an incredible study of what happens to burials after an individual dies, and why we need to be so careful when we excavate them. Everyone should read this book before they go do their first archaeological dig. This book was referenced in numerous posts, and is increasingly being used in archaeological studies to find missing data.
3. The Human Bone Manual. White and Folkens. 2005: If you plan on studying human remains, you are going to need this book. It is THE guide to human remains, and is super helpful. It reviews all of the bones individually, the various parts of the bone that can aid in identification, and also reviews some of the processes that can change or alter bone. This is a must have for any budding bioarchaeologist.
4. Analysis of Burned Human Remains. Schmidt and Symes. 2008: If you ever plan on studying forensics or if you are interested in studying a region with cremation, you will need this book. I use this book all the time. The first half reviews modern studies in fire related deaths and the cremation of remains, and the second half discusses archaeological cases of cremated remains, as well as a brilliantly final chapter on the archaeology of cremation.
5. Gender and the Archaeology of Death. Arnold and Wicker. 2001: Gender is an important identity to study in the past, but it is also complicated. This book reviews various case studies addressing female skeletal remains, female gendered grave goods, the search for other genders, and the importance of taking this approach. This is another book I continually use and suggest.
Bones Don’t Lie Top 5- Popular
These are my current top 5 favorite books with a morbid twist that are either fictional or non-fiction but with a more popular style.
1. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Cadavers. Roach 2004: This is a fabulous book for learning about what occurs after a living human becomes a corpse. If you’re new to the discipline or looking for a fun funerary read, check this one out!
2. Dissection: Photographs of a Rite of Passage. Warner and Edmonson 2009: If you are looking for something fun to have out on your coffee table and a good sunday read, check out this book. It has amazing photos of dissection from the late 19th century, and discusses the rite of passage for medical students.
3. Heavenly Bodies. Koudounaris 2013: These beautiful images of skeletons decked out in finery and jewels have been all over the internet recently due to the publication of this book. This is a wonderfully beautiful romp through the catacombs and cults of Europe.
4. The Ghost Map. Johnson 2007: Maps are very important, but the story of John Snow describes how maps saved London from cholera. Of course there is some exaggeration, but its a wonderful story nonetheless. I’d suggest reading it on a rainy day with a big glass of tap water- if you dare.
5. Gashlycrumb Tinies. Gorey 1997: I first read this book as a kid when my grandmother gave it to me as a fun way to learn the alphabet. She said it was great because “K is for Kate struck down by an axe, and Kate is your name!” It is a beautiful and fun little book.
What I’m currently reading…
1. Human Sacrifice: Shocking Expose of Ritual Killings Worldwide. Shreeve 2008: Human sacrifice is something I write about all the time- although usually it is a prehistoric act. Shreeve shares modern ritualistic sacrifices, the religions and beliefs behind them, and the forensics followups. It is extremely interesting and what I’m currently reading on the weekends.
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I just finished Stiff by Mary Roach and stumbled upon this blog. Very interesting stuff here!
If only we could arrive at natural burial in this country soon. It make such good sense.
If by Natural Burial you mean burying unpreserved remains in the ground with no particular protective enclosure your local gov’t is the real reason why you can’t. They don’t want to deal with the mess if it becomes neccessary to disinter you in order to make room for a mall or somesuch that will increase the tax base.
Personally I loved Dead Men Do Tell Tales by the late William Maples, Phd. but am so going to check out the ones you’ve recommended. I love Forensic Anthropology! Love your website!
I am currently reading Dead Men Do Tell Tales. Have a long-standing fascination with forensic sciences, so feel right at home here.
I’d highly recommend “Blood Red Roses: The Archaeology of a Mass Grave from the Battle of Towton”.