Photo overlooking the totem pole in the Pitt Rivers Museum


During the Final Honour School, students delve more deeply into the subject areas which have been introduced to them in the first year. They will also decide on which three options they would like to take from the following list of 30 subjects. One option is studied in the second year, two are studied in the third year.

Physical Anthropology & Human Osteoarchaeology

Human skeletal remains provide clues about the past to archaeologists, anthropologists and forensic scientists. They reflect the political, cultural, economic, social and ecological context of a particular period and its funerary practices. Many of the techniques employed and even the questions asked are relevant to all three disciplines, such as basic age-at-death and sex estimation, health status, and trauma. Forensic anthropology has the additional aspect of working within a forensic or medico-legal setting, wherein the anthropological analysis of human skeletal remains assists in the identification of the deceased as well as contributing to establishing the time since death and the events surrounding death.

The course provides an introduction to the study of human skeletal remains from archaeological and forensic contexts. The lectures and tutorial classes (practically based) will teach students human anatomy, estimation of age-at-death and sex of the skeleton. Consideration will be given to physical human variation (including cranial morphology, post-cranial anatomical variation and stature), oral pathology, dietary reconstruction and palaeopathology. Within palaeopathology students will learn about the evolution of particular diseases; how to assess the health status of past populations and to understand the biocultural approach to interpreting health and disease in order to enhance the understanding of past and present lives. 

Last update on 09/12/16 by Robyn Mason.

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