Anthropology: Taphonomy in the Forensic Context

S. Blau, S. Forbes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEncyclopaedia / Dictionary EntryOtherpeer-review


This chapter defines the term ‘taphonomy’ and summarizes the history of the study as pursued in various disciplines. Intrinsic and extrinsic variables that affect preservation of human remains are summarized. This is followed by an examination of the questions that forensic taphonomy can potentially address, including: what is the estimated time since death/postmortem interval or time since deposition/post-burial interval?; how did the remains come to be where they were located or discovered?; what actions may have taken place to conceal the victim’s identity or the crime?; and which factors effect injury interpretation, specifically, differentiating perimortem trauma from postmortem changes?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine
EditorsJason Payne-James, Roger W. Byard
Place of PublicationOxford UK
Pages227 - 235
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-12-800055-7
ISBN (Print)978-0-12-800034-2
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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