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Taphonomic Effects of Mechanical Plowing on Buried Juvenile‐Sized Remains

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Agricultural activity is a worldwide taphonomic process and can present unique challenges in the recovery of buried remains. Previous research has been mostly within the realm of site formation processes of archeological sites utilizing only surface material. This research expands upon the previous research by incorporating the distribution of subsurface material by the use of archeological excavation techniques. An experiment was conducted utilizing juvenile pig (Sus scrofa) skeletons buried in relative anatomical position at two different depths (15 cm below the surface [cmbs] and 22 cmbs). The burials were then subjected to different intervals of mechanical plowing: one, three, five, seven, or 10 plow passes. The skeletal material was recovered using pedestrian survey followed by hand excavation and screening of all sediments. This research shows that there is a significant relationship between the degree of plowing and the distance skeletal material is distributed and the percentage of material recovered undamaged.
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Keywords: agriculture; dispersal; forensic anthropology; forensic archeology; forensic science; juvenile remains; plowing; taphonomy

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2017

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