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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Statut : Post-Doctorante

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Tél : 05 40 00 25 32

Thèmes de recherche / Research background

Eline Schotsmans specialises in taphonomic processes, biodegradation and forensic archaeology. Her research focuses on inorganic materials in burials and lies at the interface between archaeological and forensic sciences.

On the one hand she is investigating white residues from archaeological and forensic burials. The inclusion of lime or gypsum in burials has been observed from the Neolithic to the contemporary period. More specifically, lime has been observed in burials related to epidemics, in multiple (mass) burials and clandestine burials. Other ‘white materials’ that are encountered in graves and often confused with lime or gypsum include degraded metals (cerussite, hydrocerussite), minerals (brushite, newberyite) or adipocere. Analytical information of those materials can assist in understanding taphonomic processes as well as with the interpretation of the funerary context. Amongst the sites Eline is working on are the site of Catalhöyük in Turkey (in collaboration with Christopher Knüsel), the catacomb of St. Peter and Marcellinus in Rome (in collaboration with Dominique Castex), Spanish Civil War burials (in collaboration with Luis Rios) and many others.

Eline’s second research focus aims to elucidate aspects of social organisation and belief in the Neolithic Near East. In recent years there is renewed evidence for a period of delay between the death and burial of certain individuals. By providing novel scientific evidence for these mortuary procedures, based on the application of complementary analytical methods and experiments, she seeks to identify cases of desiccation and/or soft tissue removal and thus delayed burial.

Apart from her expertise in archaeology, Eline has a wide range of forensic experience. She collaborated with DVI Belgium (Disaster Victim Identification) and different police forces in the UK. In 2012 she travelled to Burundi to join a team of forensic experts from the University of Leuven (KUL) and DVI Belgium searching for the remains of the last Burundian King assassinated in 1972. She was also deployed by Kenyon International Emergency Services to several aircraft accidents.

Eline contributed as teaching assistant to several modules at the University of Bradford and is a guest lecturer at Université Bordeaux Montaigne. She collaborates with IRAMAT-CRP2A (UMR 5060 - Université Bordeaux Montaigne) and is an honorary fellow at the University of Bradford, UK.

Recherches actuelles / Current Projects

Eline’s current post-doctoral position at Bordeaux is funded by IdEx (Initiative d’Excellence) and the France-Stanford Center for Interdisciplinary Studies (FSCIS) in collaboration with Prof. Christopher Knüsel and Scott Haddow. Eline is investigating burial organisation and management at the Neolithic Çatalhöyük by experimental research and integrated physico-chemical analyses of inorganic and organic components of the burial contexts, which serves as a key complement to the bioarchaeology of the human remains. She aims to find scientific evidence for the hypothesis that there was a period of delay between death and burial of the individuals.

Parcours / Study History

  • PhD in Forensic and Archaeological Sciences, University of Bradford, UK (2013)
  • MSc in Forensic Archaeology and Crime Scene Investigation, University of Bradford, UK (2008)
  • BSc & MSc in Archaeology, Free University of Brussels, Belgium (2007)
  • BA in Language and Speech Pathology, Lessius University College, Antwerp, Belgium (2002)

Domaines d’expertise / Research Areas

  • Biodegradation and taphonomic processes
  • Soil analysis, microbiology
  • Soft tissue and bone histology
  • Analytical science in archaeology : SEM, Raman spectroscopy, XRD, GC-MS
  • Mass disasters and mass disaster management
  • Biological anthropology

Ouvrage / Book Publication

Schotsmans E.M.J., Marquez-Grant N. & Forbes S.L. (2017) Taphonomy of Human Remains : Forensic Analysis of the Dead and the Depositional Environment, Wiley : Chichester.

Choix d’articles / Selected publications

Schotsmans E.M.J., Brettell R., Becker K., Chapoulie R. & Castex D., L’étude des matières blanches dans des sépultures : intérêt d’une démarche scientifique raisonnée. In S. de Larminat, R. Corbineau, A. Corrochano, Y. Gleize & J. Soulat (eds.), Nouvelles approches de l’archéologie funéraire, Thanat’Os, Maison de Sciences de l’Homme d’Aquitaine (accepted)

Schotsmans E.M.J., Haddow S.D., Pilloud M.A., Milella M., Glencross B., Betz B.J. & Knüsel C.J., Manipulation of the dead : exploring delayed burial practices at Neolithic Çatalhöyük. In M.A. Judd & Gregoricka L (2017) Foreign Affairs : Bioarchaeological Approaches to Ethnicity, Identity and Interaction in the MENA Region, AAPA Symposium.

Schotsmans E.M.J., García-Rubio A., Edwards H.G.M., Munshi T., Wilson A.S. & Rios L. Analysing and interpreting lime burials from the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) : a case study from La Carcavilla cemetery, Journal of Forensic Sciences (accepted - to be published in 2017).

Schotsmans E.M.J. & Van de Voorde W (2017) Concealing the crime. The effects of chemicals on human tissues. In Schotsmans E.M.J., Marquez-Grant N. & Forbes S.L. (eds.), Taphonomy of Human Remains : Forensic Analysis of the Dead and the Depositional Environment, Wiley : Chichester.

Knüsel C., Schotsmans E.M.J. & Haddow S. (2016) House Societies, Ancestors, and Burials at Neolithic Çatalhöyük : Attempting to Disentangle Collective and Multiple Burials. For colloquium “Gathered in Death” by A. Schmitt, S. Déderix, J. Driessen & I. Crevecoeur, Louvain-La-Neuve.

Van Denhouwe B. & Schotsmans E.M.J. (2015) DVI Belgium : Victim identification and necrosearch. In M. Groen, N. Marquez-Grant & R. Janaway (eds.), Forensic archaeology : a global perspective, Wiley-Blackwell.

Brettell, R.C., Schotsmans E.M.J., Walton Rogers P., Reifarth N., Redfern R., Stern B. & Heron C. (2015) ‘Choicest unguents’ : molecular evidence for the use of resinous plant exudates in late Roman mortuary rites in Britain, Journal of Archaeological Science 53 : 639-648.

Schotsmans E.M.J., Wilson A.S., Brettell R., Munshi T. & Edwards H.G.M. (2014) Raman Spectroscopy as a non-destructive screening technique for studying white substances from archaeological and forensic burial contexts, Journal of Raman Spectroscopy 45 : 1301-1308.

Schotsmans E.M.J., Fletcher J.N., Denton J., Janaway R.C. & Wilson A.S. (2014) Long-term effects of hydrated lime and quicklime on the decay of human remains using pig cadavers as human body analogues : field experiments. Forensic Science International 238 : 141.e1-141.e13 (DOI : 10.1016/j.forsciint.2013.12.046)

Schotsmans E.M.J., Denton J., Fletcher J.N., Janaway R.C. & Wilson A.S. (2014) Short-term effects of hydrated lime and quicklime on the decay of human remains using pig cadavers as human body analogues : laboratory experiments. Forensic Science International 238 : 142.e1-142.e10 (DOI : 10.1016/j.forsciint.2013.12.047)

Focant J.-F., Stefanuto P.-H., Brasseur C., Dekeirsschieter J., Haubruge E., Schotsmans E.M.J., Wilson A.S., Stadler S. & Forbes S.L. (2013) Forensic cadaveric decomposition profiling by GCxGC-TOFMS analysis of VOCs, Chem. Bull. Kazakh Natl.Univ. 4 : 177–186.

Brasseur C., Dekeirsschieter J., Schotsmans E.M.J., de Koning S., Wilson A.S., Haubruge E. & Focant J.-F. (2012) Comprehensive two dimensional gas chromatography-time-of-flight mass spectrometry for the forensic study of cadaveric volatile organic compounds released in soil by buried decaying pig carcasses. Journal of Chromatography A 125 : 163-170.

Schotsmans E.M.J., Denton J., Dekeirsschieter J., Leentjes S., Ivaneanu T., Janaway R.C. & Wilson A.S. (2012) Effects of hydrated lime and quicklime on the decay of buried human remains using pig cadavers as human body analogues. Forensic Science International 217 : 50-59.

Schotsmans E.M.J., Van de Voorde W., De Winne J. & Wilson A.S. (2011) The impact of shallow burial on differential decomposition to the body : A temperate case study. Forensic Science International 206 : e43-e48.