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A non-destructive method for dating human remains

Advances in Archaeological Practice: A Journal of the Society for American Archaeology

By:
, , ,
DOI: 10.7183/2326-3768.1.2.91

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Abstract

The skeletal remains of several Native Americans were recovered in an eroded state from a creek bank in northeastern New Mexico. Subsequently stored in a nearby museum, the remains became lost for almost 36 years. In a recent effort to repatriate the remains, it was necessary to fit them into a cultural chronology in order to determine the appropriate tribe(s) for consultation pursuant to the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). Because the remains were found in an eroded context with no artifacts or funerary objects, their age was unknown. Having been asked to avoid destructive dating methods such as radiocarbon dating, the authors used Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) to date the sediments embedded in the cranium. The OSL analyses yielded reliable dates between A.D. 1415 and A.D. 1495. Accordingly, we conclude that the remains were interred somewhat earlier than A.D. 1415, but no later than A.D. 1495. We believe the remains are from individuals ancestral to the Ute Mouache Band, which is now being contacted for repatriation efforts. Not only do our methods contribute to the immediate repatriation efforts, they provide archaeologists with a versatile, non-destructive, numerical dating method that can be used in many burial contexts.

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Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
A non-destructive method for dating human remains
Series title:
Advances in Archaeological Practice: A Journal of the Society for American Archaeology
DOI:
10.7183/2326-3768.1.2.91
Volume
1
Issue:
2
Year Published:
2013
Language:
English
Publisher:
Society for American Archaeology
Publisher location:
Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s):
Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Science Center
Description:
13 p.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Advances in Archaeological Practice: A Journal of the Society for American Archaeology
First page:
91
Last page:
103
Number of Pages:
13
Country:
United States
State:
New Mexico