Beyond the Archive: Using Excavation Photography to Assess Skeletal Preservation at Khuzhir-Nuge XIV, an Early Bronze Age Cemetery on Lake Baikal

  • Author / Creator
    Urlacher, Ruth C.
  • The purpose of this research is to examine how accurately skeletal preservation can be estimated using in-situ photographs of human burials taken for documentary purposes during archaeological excavation. Skeletal completeness and fragmentation were estimated on an element-by-element basis using excavation photographs of 66 burials from the Bronze-Age cemetery Khuzhir-Nuge XIV, excavated by the Baikal-Hokkaido Archaeology Project between 1997 and 2001. Estimated preservation scores were then compared to preservation scores observed in the field during the original excavations, and the level of agreement between the two datasets was assessed in order to determine if estimated scores were accurate. The results indicate that when elements are clearly visible in excavation photographs, completeness can be estimated relatively accurately; however, estimations of fragmentation were found to be somewhat less reliable. The main impediment to accurate estimations of element completeness was caused by factors like body position and commingling, resulting in skeletal elements obscuring one another. It is suggested that taking photographs of each layer of a burial as skeletal elements are removed would remedy this problem. The under-utilisation of archaeological photography as a research resource, and advances in visual documentation of archaeological sites are also discussed.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2017
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Harrington, Lesley (Anthropology)
    • Gruhn, Ruth (Anthropology)
    • Gierl, Mark (Educational Psychology)