The main objective of this course is to fill the theoretical-practical gap that persists in archaeological and bioanthropological funeral approaches, especially in the field. This is a disciplinary area that has grown considerably in recent years as a result of a more holistic and interdisciplinary practice of interpretations of funerary contexts. Archeothanatology is essential in understanding funerary contexts and/or contexts in which individualized biological remains are discovered. The discipline is endowed with increased scientific rigor, avoiding simplified and sometimes anecdotal interpretations of complex contexts/cases analysis. At the end of this course, students will have skills to analyze and interpret funerary contexts and/or contexts in which individualized biological remains are discovered with scientific rigour, adequate methods and appropriate lexicon and vocabulary.

The course has as specific objectives to train students in:

  1. Main methodological guidelines to be used in the excavation of human biological remnants;
  2. Main guidelines and methodologies to be used in collecting samples for various studies (e.g. biomolecular, geochemical, others);
  3. Main methodological guidelines for registration, identification and exhumation of human biological remains;
  4. Main methodological guidelines for the production of a technical report on the excavation and exhumation of human biological remains.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Linda Elisabete Mendes Melo


Weekly - Available soon

Total - 280

Teaching language



Available soon


Alfsdotter, C. (2021). The Corporeality of Death: Bioarchaeological, Taphonomic, and Forensic Anthropological Studies of Human Remains (Doctoral dissertation, Linnaeus University Press).
Adams, B., & Byrd, J. (2014). Commingled human remains: methods in recovery, analysis, and identification. Academic Press.
Duday, H., P. Courtaud, E. Crubezy, P. Sellier and A. M. Tillier (1990). "L'Anthropologie «de terrain»: reconnaissance et interprétation des gestes funéraires." Bulletins et Mémoires de la Société d'Anthropologie de Paris 2(3): 29-49.
Duday, H., Cipriani, A. M., & Pearce, J. (2009). The archaeology of the dead: lectures in archaeothanatology (Vol. 3). Oxbow books.
Knusel, C. and Schotsmans, E. (2021). Routledge Handbook of Archaeothanatology. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group: London.
White, T. D. and P. A. Folkens (2005). The human bone manual, Academic Press.

Teaching method

The course has 2 components, one theoretical, essentially expository but promoting continuous discussion with students, with the objective of certifying the acquisition of knowledge. The practical component focuses on practical cases using 3D models of contexts and/or photographs. The practical component will be developed with the creation of workgroups, promoting discussion among group members, and among the various groups formed.

Evaluation method

Evaluation Method - Assessment of knowledge in class via questionnaire/quizzes(40%), Evaluation of a final analysis report of a practical case(30%), Evaluation of the practical component analysis sheets(30%)

Subject matter

  1. The syllabus of the course will focus on:
  2. Main concepts in archeothanatology;
  3. Understanding the concepts of taphonomy and the processes of decomposition of a cadaver and bone biological remnants;
  4. Explore the various concepts of the grave, and their identification based on bone elements and their arrangement in the field;
  5. Interpretation of funerary gestures, as expressed by in situ biological remnants;
  6. Interpretation of post-depositional disturbances and their implication in the in situ analysis of human biological remnants;
  7. Interpretation of the various cremation contexts, and their particularities.


Programs where the course is taught: