The dead do not dress: contribution of forensic anthropology experiments to burial practices analysis

Abstract : The specific question of clothing presence in burial context is often answered positively, thanks to artifacts like brooches for example. But when artefacts are missing, the task is more difficult, and frequent osteological arguments can only suggest the presence of clothing with the deceased. The gap in determining the presence of clothing is essentially related to a misunderstanding of the effect of clothing on the rate of human decomposition, and thus on the final arrangement of bones (in both forensic and archaeological contexts). Some forensic experiments have been conducted in this regard (essentially in the United States) but no synthesis or archaeological applications have been documented to date. Therefore, our presentation has two main goals: first, attempt to provide synthetic answers about the effect of clothing on the rate of decomposition (impact on entomological activity, progress of putrefaction, etc.) and, secondly, attempt to apply those forensic arguments to archaeological examples from a methodological and interpretative perspective (methods for recognizing clothing in burial context, contribution of clothes to burial practices analysis, etc.)
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Denis Bouquin, Jean-Pol Beauthier, Germaine Depierre. The dead do not dress: contribution of forensic anthropology experiments to burial practices analysis. 17th Conference on Cultural Heritage and New Technologies, Nov 2012, Vienne, Autriche. p. 1-16. ⟨halshs-00909547⟩

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