Sheffield, United Kingdom
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Charles M.,Northgate House | Pessin H.,Northgate House | Hald M.M.,Natural Science Research Unit
Environmental Archaeology | Year: 2010

Recent excavation and survey work in northern Mesopotamia has shown that the Late Chalcolithic urban-based society, based on rain-fed agriculture, in many ways matches that of southern Mesopotamian Uruk civilisation where irrigation agriculture is attributed a key role. This northern civilisation thrived for some thousand years from the late 5th to 4th millennium BC. Reconstruction of the climate of the region during this period suggests that a climatic optimum, of temperature and precipitation, persisted until the time of the collapse at the end of the 4th millennium BC. This paper assesses the scale and duration of climatic change around the 5•2 kBP climate event as recorded in lake and cave material and examines the on-site charred plant evidence of crops, weeds and wood charcoal from Tell Brak (north-eastern Syria) for economic and environmental responses to these climate changes. © Association for Environmental Archaeology 2010 Published by Maney.


White L.,Northgate House | Booth T.J.,Northgate House
Forensic Science International | Year: 2014

It is unclear whether the principal forms of bioerosion that are often found within the internal microstructure of human bone are produced by intrinsic gut microbiota or exogenous bacteria from the soil. The aim of this study was to attempt to resolve this issue through the histological analysis of bone sampled from experimentally-deposited domestic pig (Sus scrofa) carcasses. Confirmation of either scenario will dictate how patterns of bone bioerosion can be used in reconstructions of taphonomic events. The results should also reveal the post mortem processes that promote the survival of bone biomolecules as well as the histomorphological structures that can be used in forensic identifications of human remains.Twelve pig carcasses were differentially buried and sub-aerially exposed for one year at Riseholme, Lincolnshire, U.K. Their femora were examined after one year using thin section light microscopy to investigate the patterns of microscopic bioerosion. The distribution and extent of degradation observed within the microstructures of the pig femora were consistent with bacterial bioerosion. The early occurrence of bioerosion within the Riseholme samples suggested that enteric putrefactive bacteria are primarily responsible for characteristic internal bone bioerosion. The distribution of bioerosion amongst the buried/unburied and stillborn/juvenile pig remains also supported an endogenous model. Bone from stillborn neonatal carcasses always demonstrated immaculate histological preservation due to the intrinsic sterility of newborn infant intestinal tracts. Bioerosion within the internal microstructure of mature bone will reflect the extent to which the skeletal element was exposed to putrefaction. Bone histology should be useful in reconstructing early taphonomic events. There is likely to be a relationship between post mortem processes that deny enteric gut bacteria access to internal bone microstructures and the survival of biomolecules. © 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.


It is unclear whether the principal forms of bioerosion that are often found within the internal microstructure of human bone are produced by intrinsic gut microbiota or exogenous bacteria from the soil. The aim of this study was to attempt to resolve this issue through the histological analysis of bone sampled from experimentally-deposited domestic pig (Sus scrofa) carcasses. Confirmation of either scenario will dictate how patterns of bone bioerosion can be used in reconstructions of taphonomic events. The results should also reveal the post mortem processes that promote the survival of bone biomolecules as well as the histomorphological structures that can be used in forensic identifications of human remains. Twelve pig carcasses were differentially buried and sub-aerially exposed for one year at Riseholme, Lincolnshire, U.K. Their femora were examined after one year using thin section light microscopy to investigate the patterns of microscopic bioerosion. The distribution and extent of degradation observed within the microstructures of the pig femora were consistent with bacterial bioerosion. The early occurrence of bioerosion within the Riseholme samples suggested that enteric putrefactive bacteria are primarily responsible for characteristic internal bone bioerosion. The distribution of bioerosion amongst the buried/unburied and stillborn/juvenile pig remains also supported an endogenous model. Bone from stillborn neonatal carcasses always demonstrated immaculate histological preservation due to the intrinsic sterility of newborn infant intestinal tracts. Bioerosion within the internal microstructure of mature bone will reflect the extent to which the skeletal element was exposed to putrefaction. Bone histology should be useful in reconstructing early taphonomic events. There is likely to be a relationship between post mortem processes that deny enteric gut bacteria access to internal bone microstructures and the survival of biomolecules.

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