Thursday 11 April, 7.30pm

Talk: All together now: taphonomic analysis of human-animal commingled interments in Neolithic Britain by Leah Damman

Tony Cooper Suite, Cottenham Village College

Doors open 7.15 pm; meeting begins 7.30 pm


Fragmented, mixed assemblages of human and animal bones are common in archaeological deposits, particularly in prehistoric contexts across Europe and the British Isles. Leah Damman argues that standard approaches to studying human remains in these contexts yields an incomplete understanding of the burial context and its cultural values; and that the application of zooarchaeology techniques can contribute a more complex understanding of the human material found in these contexts. Utilising human osteology and zooarchaeology approaches, and combining these with specialised methods such as cut mark analysis and ZooMS, will allow for the identification (particularly of bone fragments), recording and analysis of human and animal material at a more detailed and complete level. This will enable a much greater understanding of the histories of human and animal remains in these complex deposits from a period where not much more than the skeletal evidence remains – Neolithic Britain (4000–2500 BCE). This project will advance taphonomic study and identification of all bone fragments.  Further the analysis will allow the human bones to be examined without the assumptions traditionally associated with human remains may generate new ideas about treatment of these remains.

Leah moved from her native Australia to the UK to study for a Masters in Osteoarchaeology in Edinburgh. After a short spell as a field archaeologist, she took up a managerial role at Natural History Museum. Realising she’d rather be doing research than managing the researchers, she came to Cambridge where she is now in the third year of her PhD, studying her passion – bones – and the human–animal relationship in (pre)history.


Images courtesy of Leah Damman


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