PACEA — De la Préhistoire à l'Actuel : Culture, Environnement et Anthropologie.

PACEA — De la Préhistoire à l’Actuel : Culture, Environnement et Anthropologie. UMR 5199, Université de Bordeaux, CNRS.

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From biological diversity to bioarchaeology

par Frédéric Santos - publié le

Coordinators : David Cochard and Christopher Knüsel

Bioarchaeology combines all types of biological remains from archaeological contexts to address broad questions concerning biological and social transitions across space and time.

The goal of this theme is to improve current understandings of the diversity, variability and morphogenesis of the biological traits of living organisms (vertebrates, vegetation, anthropods, parasites, viruses) in order to more fully appreciate the evolution and behaviour of human groups from the Plio-Pleistocene to present day. In order to achieve this, we focus on characterising the biological profile of individuals (i.e. age-at-death, lifestyle, genetic markers, genome) to derive a detailed osteo-biography. Particular attention is also paid to the inter- and intra-population variability of these traits and the mechanisms underlying them (e.g. environmental, chronological, geographical). The third aspect of our approach concerns the general health of populations (palaeopathology, palaeoepidemiology).

Nine areas, including several research projects, structure work carried as part of this theme. Moreover, a multi-disciplinary workshop focusing on the osteo-identification of human and animal remains is currently being developed.

Fracture d’avulsion d’un coude chez un individu médiéval
(Towton 16)
Sépulture de Çatalhöyük

Research programmes

  • Fossil humans : morphology, biomechanics, environments
  • Fossil humans : morphology, biomechanics, environments
  • Plio-pleistocene fauna (macromammals, micromammals, birds, fish) : morphology, chronology and environmental context
  • Dental and maxillo-facial evolution : morphological analysis of associated soft tissue
  • Ontogenesis of humans and their closest ancestors : variability in maturation and development, analysis of neonates
  • Activity and stress markers on human and animal bones
  • Palaeopathology, palaeoepidemiology, and the health of past populations
  • Violence and warfare : archaeological, anthropological and forensic/legal perspectives
  • Fertility and mortality in past populations
  • Neolithisation and its impact on human biology

Multi-disciplinary workshop

The anatomic and taxonomic identification of bone remains (osteo-identification) is fundamental to all research in this theme. However, distinguishing human and animal bones (both normal and pathological) based on reproducible and reliable traits still requires further work. This practical necessity precedes any morphometric (micro- or macroscopic) comparison of bone remains integrating elements of an individual’s age, sex, body size, health, social or natural environment and will gather together all the competences of PACEA’s research community for the first time.