Radiocarbon and histo-taphonomic evidence for curation and excarnation of human remains in Bronze Age Britain

Joanna Bruck, Thomas Booth

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Abstract


Partial cremated and unburnt human remains have been recovered from a variety of British archaeological contexts dating from the Chalcolithic to the Earliest Iron Age (c. 2500-600 BC). Chronological modelling and comparison of 189 radiocarbon dates from a selection of these deposits provides evidence for systematic curation of human remains for two generations on average. Histological analysis of human bone using micro-CT indicates mortuary treatment involving excarnation and exhumation of primary burials. Curated bone came from people who had lived within living or cultural memory, and their power was probably derived from the relationships between the living and the dead.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAntiquity
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2 Dec 2019

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