Archaeothanatology as a tool for interpreting death during pregnancy: a proposed methodology using examples from Medieval Ireland

Melie Le Roy, Eileen Murphy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
52 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Archaeothanatoloy involves assessment of the changes a corpse undergoes from the time of death from both biological and social perspectives. It considers decomposition processes in conjunction with mortuary practices and the approach has been applied to a wide range of burial contexts. There has, however, been limited application of the technique when interpreting the remains of women buried with potentially unborn infants. Detailed investigation of the direct physical relationship between a mother and her unborn baby has the potential to provide nuanced information about the health status of both individuals and their cause of death. The chapter presents a method of evaluating potential contemporary mother-infant burials to ensure the maximum amount of information is retrieved and to improve interpretations. The value of applying an archaeothanatological approach is evidenced through three case studies of mother-infant pairs recovered from Medieval Ireland.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe mother-infant nexus in anthropology: small beginnings, significant outcomes
EditorsRebecca Gowland, Sian Halcrow
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
PublisherSpringer
Chapter12
Pages211-234
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9783030273934
ISBN (Print)9783030273927
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2019

Publication series

Name Bioarchaeology and Social Theory

Keywords

  • Field anthropology, taphonomy, obstetrics, childbirth, fetus

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