Exhumation of unclaimed human remains as taphonomic model

Dominika Nociarová, Maria Jose Adserias, Núria Armentano, Ignasi Galtés, Assumpció Malgosa

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1 Citation (Scopus)


© 2014 Asociación Nacional de Médicos Forenses. Published by Elsevier España, S.L.U. All rights reserved. Abstract Introduction The recovery of human skeletal remains or remains in high stage of decay implies important questions to be answered, such as the origin of those remains, the post mortem interval, and the taphonomic effects that are observed. This study presents a pioneer project about human forensic taphonomy in Spain. Material and methods Unclaimed human remains from cemetery of Terrassa (Barcelona) were analysed. Context of remains, decomposition stage, bone pathology and taphonomic artefacts are the variables that are taken into consideration during this project. Results One hundred sixty-nine corpses, including both genders and different ages, were analysed. Taphonomic phenomena and conservation pattern related with ante mortem (biological profile, pathology, treatment, fractures, etc.) and post mortem (forensic treatment, thanatopraxy and/or mortuary aesthetics, and other taphonomic artefacts) situation were observed. Conclusions This preliminary study shows the benefits of the use of cemetery models in the field of physical and forensic anthropology.
Original languageEnglish
Article number109
Pages (from-to)53-57
JournalRevista Espanola de Medicina Legal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Conservation
  • Decomposition
  • Field anthropology
  • Forensic anthropology
  • Taphonomy


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