Short courses

Human Osteology: an introduction

Date: To be confirmed

Duration: 5 days

Course leaders: Lauren McIntyre and Isabelle Heyerdahl-King

A five-day course suitable for those working in: archaeology, museums and other positions within the heritage industry; anyone wanting a taster course in human osteology at an intermediate level; prospective students at undergraduate or Masters level and anyone wishing to refresh their knowledge of human osteology and the interpretation of osteological material.

The course is taught through lectures, presentations and a wide range of practical activities, giving participants the opportunity to apply and consolidate the information given.

The course will be taught by Dr Lauren McIntyre of Elmet Archaeological Services and Isabelle Heyerdahl-King (doctoral candidate at the University of Sheffield). Lauren and Isabelle are trained osteoarchaeologists with a combined total of over 25 years practical and professional experience in both the field and the classroom.

Participants will begin to develop skills in:

  • Understanding the development of the human skeleton from an evolutionary perspective
  • Understanding human musculoskeletal anatomy
  • Understanding the fundamental principles of excavating human skeletal material in the field
  • Recording a skeleton both in the field and the laboratory
  • Estimating age at death, biological sex, and living stature
  • Indentifying key features of both juvenile and adult dentition
  • Understanding key characteristics of bone microstructure
  • Recognising dental and non-dental pathology
  • Interpreting osteological findings and relating them to the wider archaeological context

Course content

Day 1

  • Practical arrangements and health and safety
  • Handling remains in the field and laboratory
  • Introduction to excavating human remains/dealing with human remains in an archaeological context (including current archaeological human remains legislation)
  • The human skeleton from an evolutionary perspective
  • Basic skeletal anatomy, handling major bones and learning diagnostic osteological features
  • Full skeletal layout

Day 2

  • Assigning estimated age at death
  • Biological sex estimation
  • Adult living stature estimation
  • Demographic analysis and population profiling

Day 3

  • Overview of human dentition
  • Identifying deciduous and permanent teeth
  • Identifying dental pathology
  • Bone taphonomy

Day 4

  • Skeletal pathology
  • Introduction to bone microstructure
  • Introduction to non-metric traits
  • Osteology in context: bringing the dead to life

Day 5

  • Review of the weeks lectures and activities
  • Assessment

We are also hoping to include a couple of bonus evening lectures – subject to availability, times and topics will be announced nearer to the course date.

Feedback from past participants

Very useful, learnt a lot! Excellent tuition

I hugely enjoyed today and feel I have learnt far more than I did during my Osteology sessions as part of my BA

Really well structured, with plenty of hands on activities and excellent explanations

All round excellent course – frankly the best and most useful day course I’ve been on quite some time

Contact us

Oxford Brookes Archaeology and Heritage
Oxford Brookes University
Oxford OX3 0BP

Professor Adrian Parker

Tel: +44 (0)1865 48 3753

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