Book review for Reading the Bones, Activity, Biology and Culture by Elizabeth Weiss (2017)


  • Diane Martin-Moya University of Montreal - Deparment of Anthropology (Biological Anthropology)


Reviewer: Diane Martin-Moya, Ph.D candidate in Bioarcheology (Department of Anthropology, University of Montreal)

The book Reading the Bones, Activity, Biology and Culture considers the study of bones’ features as an essential question when observing osteological variation – Is the environment a suitable explanation over genetic selection and as a bioarcheologist is it possible to study specific markers to reconstruct past population activity pattern?. The approach to this question is original and is supported by a large and varied selection of studies in addition to an exhaustive glossary. This book considers issues encountered in bioarcheological studies (human and animal) and offer an overview of the methodologies that have been used on specific aspect of the bone.  Through modern clinical and genetic studies, the author compared or correlated   archaeological studies ranging from general analysis to specific material culture elements. This book includes a wide variety of examples from the late prehistoric to nowadays, while also covering a large territory and chronology and a corresponding relevant literature. These elements make the book of interest to a large audience among bioarcheologists.


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von Cramon-Taubadel, N. (2014). Evolutionary insights into global patterns of human cranial diversity: population history, climatic and dietary effects. J. Anthropol. Sci, 92(4).

Galland, M., Van Gerven, D. P., Von Cramon-Taubadel, N., & Pinhasi, R. (2016). 11,000 years of craniofacial and mandibular variation in Lower Nubia. Scientific reports, 6, 31040.

Katz, D. C., Grote, M. N., & Weaver, T. D. (2017). Changes in human skull morphology across the agricultural transition are consistent with softer diets in preindustrial farming groups. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(34), 9050-9055.

Weiss, E. (2017). Reading the Bones: Activity, Biology, and Culture. Gainesville: University Press of Florida. 204p.