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Laboratory studies in Human Osteology


Compulsory attendance


Admission requirements

BA3 Human Osteology 1 and 2 (or an advanced undergraduate Osteology class deemed to be equivalent by the instructor).


This is a practical course wherein students apply their knowledge of human osteology to the analysis of skeletons from archaeological contexts. Students are expected to be responsible for a minimum of three skeletons from the beginning to final stages of analysis. This will include cleaning, sorting, restoration, inventory, photography and measurement of skeletal and dental remains.
This will be followed by the application of more advanced methods to determine age-at-death, sex, stature and body size, and the documentation and differential diagnosis of pathological lesions. Results will be prepared following a standardised report format.

Course objectives

  • Ability to determine and differentiate parts of the human skeleton while unsupervised;

  • Ability to use scientific equipment to collect standard anatomical measurements based on common skeletal landmarks while unsupervised;

  • To learn to create a detailed inventory of human remains using correct anatomical terminology;

  • Ability to apply advanced osteobiographical methods of age-at-death, sex, and stature and body size determination;

  • To practice the identification of pathological conditions and diagnosis differentials.

Ects distribution

The course load will be distributed as follows:
Laboratory time: 5 ects. Laboratory analysis of 1 skeleton = 1 hour, 5 skeletons = 100 hours.


Course schedule details can be found in the MA time schedule.

Mode of instruction

  • Bi-monthly lectures reviewing data collection protocols;

  • One-on-one consultations between instructor and student;

  • Student directed questions.

Assessment method

Completion of laboratory forms for 5 skeletons.

Assessment deadline

All skeletal analyses must be completed by the end of block 3.

Reading list

Osteoarchaeology Data Collection Standards (to be distributed to the students upon course commencement).


Register for this course via uSis.
Instructions for registration can be found in the uSis manual.

Contact information

For more information about this course, please contact dr A.L. Waters-Rist.