91944 - Laboratory of Palaeobiology and Forensic Osteology

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Good health and well-being Gender equality Life on land

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student will acquire advanced knowledge of the human skeletal biology and of the application in the archaeological and forensic fileds.The student will be skill to study unidentified human skeletal remains (for forensic and archaeological purposes) troughout many methodologies involved in the recostruction of the biological profile and identification. Restoration and study of specific osseous and dental markers (age at death, sex, physical activity, traumas, disease, etc.) will be applied to reconstrict biologivcal profile and life style of the humans.

Course contents

In the program of the course the following paleobiological topics will be dealt with: Physical and forensic Anthropology; Bioarchaeology; Forensic osteology; Anatomy of the human skeleton; The skeletal markers; The anthropological methods to reconstruct the biological profile (age-at-death estimation, sex diagnosis, stature estimation); Biological profile and identification; The skeletal pathologies; The markers of the interpersonal violence; The taphonomy and the state of conservation of the human skeletal remains; The recognition of the human/non-human remains, of the fragmentary bones, of the remains of inhumated vs. cremated individuals; The evolutionary issues: modern human skeletal variability and the fossil record; The role of the human identified skeletal collections in the study of the archaeological and forensic contexts; Ethical issues in the study of the human skeletons; Laboratory procedure; How to draw an osteological report.


K.J. Reichs (ed) (1998). Forensic Osteology (2nd Edition). Charles C. Thomas publisher, LTD, Springfield, Illinois, USA.

White T, Folkens PA (2005) Human bone manual. Elsevier Academic Press.

The slides of the course will be provided and some scientific papers may be also given.

Teaching methods

The course provides frontal lessons and laboratories. Since the practical structure of the course, human skeletal remains coming from archaeological and/or from identified collections will be utilized to facilitate the learning from the beginning of the course.

Assessment methods

Taking into account that the aim of the course is to allow the student for reconstructing the biological profile of human skeletal remains of scientific interest and to provide an osteological report of the materials that have been examined, the exam consists in a pratical test.

The student have to:

- recognize and describe human skeletal remains (also in fragmentary status);

- reconstruct the biological profile (age estimation, sex diagnosis, etc.) of the remains utilizing the methods learned during the course.

The evaluation will take into account, not only the preparation of the required arguments, but also the ability of expression, the adequate and correct scientific terminology.

Teaching tools

Slides and PC. The course of laboratory is realized utilizing the instruments and requirements for the anthropological study the human skeletal remains.

Office hours

See the website of Maria Giovanna Belcastro