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Taphonomy of Human Remains: Forensic Analysis of the Dead and the Depositional Environment

By: Eline MJ Schotsmans(Editor), Nicholas Márquez-Grant(Editor), Shari L Forbes(Editor), Marcella H Sorg(Foreword By), William D Haglund(Foreword By)

509 pages, b/w photos, b/w illustrations

John Wiley & Sons

Hardback | Apr 2017 | #234565 | ISBN-13: 9781118953327
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £89.99 $114/€100 approx

About this book

Taphonomy of Human Remains: Forensic Analysis of the Dead and the Depositional Environment is a comprehensive interdisciplinary overview of taphonomy (the study of decaying organisms over time and how they may become fossilised) written by an international group of scientists and forensic practitioners. A cadaver and its depositional environment are a complex and dynamic system. Without understanding the depositional environment, it is not possible to reconstruct the original sequence of events leading to the deposition and discovery of the human remains. Moreover, the interpretation of suspicious circumstances surrounding death can only be made with due regard to the natural decay processes.

This volume focuses on the chemical and biological processes of soft tissue decomposition of human remains, the degradation of associated artefacts, and specific modifications to the body such as thermal alterations or the application of chemicals to human tissue. Supported by case studies and divided into five sections, chapter contributions cover:
- Essential knowledge of gross and microscopic post-mortem processes
- Analysis and interpretation of the depositional environment
- Anti-, peri- and post-mortem modifications to the body
- Case studies
- Past and future considerations for taphonomy

This book is primarily written by and for forensic scientists and practitioners working in different jurisdictions and fields of expertise, including pathology, anthropology, archaeology, entomology, botany, chemistry, microbiology and soil science. Additionally, this volume provides an invaluable resource for academics and students in a number of other areas of archaeology or anthropology, and an ideal reference manual for professionals such as police officers, crime scene managers, death investigators, coroners, forensic coordinators.


Contents

List of Contributors xix
Notes on Contributors xxvii
Foreword xxix
Acknowledgements xxxi
Introduction 1

Part I General Post-Mortem Processes: Degradation of Soft Tissue, Bone and Associated Materials 9
1 Gross Post-Mortem Changes in the Human Body 11
2 Microscopic Post-Mortem Changes: the Chemistry of Decomposition 26
3 Profiling Volatile Organic Compounds of Decomposition 39
4 Blood Degradation and Bloodstain Age Estimation 53
5 DNA Degradation: Current Knowledge and Progress in DNA Analysis 65
6 Taphonomic Alterations to Hair and Nail 81
7 Taphonomy of Teeth 92
8 The Taphonomy of Natural Mummies 101
9 Degradation of Clothing in Depositional Environments 120

Part II The Depositional Environment 143
10 Post-Mortem Interval Estimation: an Overview of Techniques 134
11 Relationships between Human Remains, Graves and the Depositional Environment 145
12 Bacterial Symbionts and Taphonomic Agents of Humans 155
13 Forensic Entomology and Funerary Archaeoentomology 167
14 Forensic Botany and Stomach Contents Analysis: Established Practice and Innovation 187
15 The Effects of Weathering on Bone Preservation 201
16 The Effects of Terrestrial Mammalian Scavenging and Avian Scavenging on the Body 212
17 Decomposition in Aquatic Environments 235
18 Post-Mortem Differential Preservation and its Utility in Interpreting Forensic and Archaeological Mass Burials 251

Part III Anti-, Peri- and Post-Mortem Modifications to the Body 297
19 Reconstructing the Original Arrangement, Organisation and Architecture of Burials in Archaeology 277
20 Forensic Toxicology of Decomposed Human Remains 299
21 Thermal Alteration to the Body 318
22 Concealing the Crime: the Effects of Chemicals on Human Tissues 335
23 Distinguishing between Peri- and Post-Mortem Trauma on Bone 352

Part IV Case Studies 385
24 Collection Care and Management of Human Remains 369
25 The Use of Volatile Fatty Acid Biomarkers to Estimate the Post-Mortem Interval 387
26 A Taphonomic Study Based on Observations of 196 Exhumations and 23 Clandestine Burials 394
27 Case Studies on Taphonomic Variation between Cemetery Burials 402
28 Forensic Entomology Case Studies from Mexico 410
29 Recovery of Skeletonised Human Remains and Textile Degradation: a Case Study 420
30 Saponified Brains of the Spanish Civil War 429
31 Analysis and Interpretation of Burned Human Remains from a Homicide 438
32 A Soldier’s Story: Forensic Anthropology and Blast Injury 445
33 Decomposition in an Unusual Environment: Body Sealed in Concrete 452

Part V Past, Present and Future Considerations 461
34 A Case Study from Los Angeles: Baby in Concrete 454
35 History and Development of the First Anthropology Research Facility, Knoxville, Tennessee 463
36 Crime Scene Investigation, Archaeology and Taphonomy: Reconstructing Activities at Crime Scenes 476

Acknowledgements 491
References 491
Index 495


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