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The Ethical Challenges of Destructive Sampling and Analysis in Bioarchaeology

SQUIRES, Kirsty and Roberts, Charlotte (2022) The Ethical Challenges of Destructive Sampling and Analysis in Bioarchaeology. In: World Archaeology Congress 9th Annual Meeting, 3rd July 2022 - 8th July 2022, Prague, Czechia.

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Abstract or description

As the primary evidence for understanding our human past, ‘traditional’ bioarchaeology is the macroscopic osteological analysis of archaeological human skeletal remains. However, some research questions cannot be answered by traditional analyses alone. Over the past thirty years there has been an exponential rise in the use of more intrusive forms of analysis to answer questions pertaining to mobility, diet, taphonomy, kinship, and health challenges. However, such techniques, e.g. biomolecular analyses (e.g. for isotope signatures and DNA), radiocarbon dating, and histological analysis require destructive sampling. This raises ethical questions regarding the preservation of the integrity of skeletal assemblages for the future, and cultural concerns of contemporary societies. This paper will explore the validity of conducting such analyses and what bioarchaeology and other disciplines, such as genetics and chemistry, are doing to ensure good ethical practices are in place in such studies. It will focus on four key areas, namely 1. The justified use of destructive sampling and associated analyses to answer research questions, as opposed to exploratory investigations, 2. The need to limit the number of times skeletal remains are sampled, 3. The need to acquire and acknowledge ethical approval to conduct research, including in publications, and 4. The need for greater cultural and religious awareness, regardless of chronological period, when using such techniques. It is clear that whilst these sophisticated forms of analysis can provide a unique insight into the past, we must not forget about the social and cultural attributes, and ideological backgrounds, of the people we are studying.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bioarchaeology, Ethics, Destructive Sampling
Faculty: School of Law, Policing and Forensics > Forensic Sciences and Policing
Event Title: World Archaeology Congress 9th Annual Meeting
Event Location: Prague, Czechia
Event Dates: 3rd July 2022 - 8th July 2022
Depositing User: Kirsty SQUIRES
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2022 14:35
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 14:04
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