• The effects of lime on the decomposition of buried human remains. A field and laboratory based study for forensic and archaeological application.

      Wilson, Andrew S.; Janaway, Robert C.; Schotsmans, Eline M.J. (University of BradfordDepartment of Archaeological Sciences, School of Life Sciences., 2014-05-02)
      The inclusion of lime in burials is observed in historical and archaeological records, in contemporary mass graves and forensic cases. Clearly there are controversies within the literature and there is a general misconception of the effects of lime on decomposition. Recent casework in Belgium and the UK involving the search for human remains buried with lime, have demonstrated the need for a more detailed understanding of the effect of different types of lime on cadaver decomposition and its micro-environment. Field and laboratory experiments using pigs as human body analogues were undertaken to obtain a better understanding of the taphonomic processes that govern lime burials. The changes observed in the experiments were related back to archaeological parallels in which white residues have been found. The combined results of these studies demonstrate that despite conflicting evidence in the literature, hydrated lime and quicklime both delay the initial stages of the decay process but do not arrest it completely. The end result is ultimately the same: skeletonisation. Furthermore this study stresses the importance of the specific microenvironment in taphonomic research and highlights the need for chemical analysis of white residues when encountered in a burial. Not all white powder is lime. White residue could be identified as calcium carbonate, building material, body decomposition products, minerals or degraded lead. This study has implications for the investigation of clandestine burials and for a better understanding of archaeological plaster burials. Knowledge of the effects of lime on decomposition processes also have bearing on practices involving the disposal of animal carcasses and potentially the management of mass graves and mass disasters by humanitarian organisation and DVI teams.
    • Taken to the grave. An archaeozoological approach assessing the role of animals as crematory offerings in first millennium AD Britain.

      Bond, Julie M.; Worley, Fay L. (University of BradfordDepartment of Archaeological Sciences, 2010-04-01)
      The crematory funerary rites practiced by those living in parts of mainland Britain during the first millennium AD included burning complete or parts of animals on the pyre. This thesis highlights the potential for archaeozoological analysis of faunal pyre goods using assemblages from the first millennium AD as a dataset. Experimental study and the integration of current research from a number of disciplines is used to suggest that although pyrolysis and cremation practices fragment and distort burnt bone assemblages, careful analysis can reveal a wealth of data leading to the interpretation of various forms of pyre good. The results of the author¿s analysis of material from the sites of Brougham, Cumbria, St. Stephen¿s, Hertfordshire, Castleford, West Yorkshire and Heath Wood, Derbyshire are combined with data from other published cemeteries to suggest a series of chronological and regional continuities in the use of animals but with a distinct change at the start of the Early Medieval period. The results from Brougham are particularly significant as they alter preconceived views on the utilisation of animals in Romano-British funerary practice. Cremation burials in first millennium AD Britain are shown to include the burnt remains of predominantly domestic taxa with occasional wild species. The pyre goods are interpreted as representing food offerings, companions, amulets, gaming items and sacrifices. This thesis demonstrates that cremated animal bone should not be disregarded but rather valued as source of archaeozoological data, and a significant functional tool for interpreting past funerary behaviour and animal utilisation.