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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: Bone Identification, Anatomy and Taphonomy (PGHC11130)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Course typeStandard AvailabilityAvailable to all students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) Credits20
Home subject areaPostgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology) Other subject areaNone
Course website None Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionThe accurate anatomical and taxonomic identification of bones is the first step in their evaluation. At a basic level, osteoarchaeological analysis attempts to distinguish between the remains of humans and animals, and to identify the bones of various animals. Taphonomy aims to reconstruct the post mortem history of bone finds and involves the critical evaluation of bone assemblages that have been continuously affected by natural agents and human activity alike. Understanding the processes that have created bone deposits is fundamental in the meaningful archaeological interpretation of osteological data. A special form of post mortem bone modification is burning. Cremation, especially in the case of humans, is of great cultural importance and identifying calcined bone takes special skills, also taught in this course. Last but not least, the course also includes guidance on the recovery and recording of archaeosteological materials, methods that are aimed at minimizing further, modern day 'taphonomic' loss of information.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Human Musculo-Skeletal Anatomy (PGHC11367)
Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
Displayed in Visiting Students Prospectus?Yes
Course Delivery Information
Delivery period: 2013/14 Semester 1, Available to all students (SV1) Learn enabled:  Yes Quota:  None
Web Timetable Web Timetable
Course Start Date 16/09/2013
Breakdown of Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 23, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 18, Summative Assessment Hours 8, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 147 )
Additional Notes
Breakdown of Assessment Methods (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 50 %
No Exam Information
Summary of Intended Learning Outcomes
By the end of the course the student will:
- Be able accurately to identify and distinguish between animal and human (Homo sapiens) bones
- Be able to identify a range of animal species from their skeletal remains
- Have a basic understanding of the specific methods used in the identification and analysis of human cremated remains
- Have an awareness of the various processes that can affect skeletal remains after death and how this information can add to our understanding of ancient societies and/or environments
Assessment Information
eight weekly class tests (50%)
one 2000 word essay (50%)
Special Arrangements
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus 1. Introduction: Human remains
2. Bone development and histology
3. The spine
4. Introduction: Animal remains
5. Elements of the taphonomic process
6. Functional traits of the animal skeleton
7. Hands-on identification
8. The skull and dentition
Class test: The spine
9. The arm
Class test: The skull and dentition
10. Ribs, shoulder and sternum
Class test: The arm
11. The pelvis
Class test: Ribs, shoulder and sternum
12. The leg
Class test: The pelvis
13. Morphological differences between species
14. Hand and foot
Class test: The leg
15. Juveniles
Class test: Hand and foot
16. Review
Class test: Juveniles
Transferable skills Not entered
Reading list Not entered
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Not entered
Course organiserDr Linda Fibiger
Tel: (0131 6)50 2379
Course secretaryMs Rosie Edwards
Tel: (0131 6)50 3782
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