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Skeletal Biology and Bioarchaeology of the Northwestern Plains

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Copyright: 2008
Trim: 7 x 10
Pages: 336 pp.
Illustrations: 129 figures, 70 tables




Skeletal Biology and Bioarchaeology of the Northwestern Plains

Edited by George W. Gill and Rick L. Weathermon

Anthropology / Archaeology

Northwestern Plains prehistory and early history as told by human bones is vivid and dramatic. The skeletal and burial record spans thousands of years, a wide geographic expanse, and contains important evidence of human existence in this vast region of North America. This book helps clarify the emerging picture.

Most of the contributions assembled here were initially presented as part of a symposium at the Plains Conference in Oklahoma City in 2003. Twenty-one preeminent scholars, working across many fields within bioarchaeology and skeletal biology—including paleopathology, dental pathology, and human osteology—bring their expertise to bear not only on prehistoric Native American burials, but on numerous other case studies. They look at specific Wyoming samples of pioneer-era burials, Indian War-era casualties, historic Chinese burials, and remains from the Benick Ranch and the Korell-Bordeaux sites. Reports on Crow Indian mummies from Montana and military burials from Missouri and Nebraska continue the exploration into recent historic times.

Human burials provide a rich source of information about people’s lives—who they were, what activities they pursued, and how they may have participated in rituals of death and mourning. This volume is an authoritative statement on both the skeletal biology and bioarchaeology of the entire Northwestern Plains.

George W. Gill is distinguished emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of Wyoming.
Rick L. Weathermon is a senior research scientist in anthropology at the University of Wyoming.


Anne K. Armstrong; Karin S. Bruwelheide; Laurie E. Burgess; Gayle F. Carlson; Kierstin K. Catlett; Don P. Davis; Cresta Valentine Deeds; George C. Frison; Thomas A. Furgeson; Richard L. Jantz; Mark E. Miller; Maxine J. Miller; Douglas W. Owsley; Rennie Phillips Polidora; Martha Rogers; Laura L. Scheiber; L. Jaimeson Stuart; Douglas H. Ubelaker; Jennifer Orlesh Zitt

Table of Contents:

List of Figures
List of Tables
Prologue: New Perspectives on Northwestern Plains Skeletal Biology and Bioarchaeology
Introduction: An Overview of the Region

1. Before Bioarchaeology: Early Day Records of Human Burials on the Northwestern Plains
2. Life and Death on the Northwestern Plains: Mortuary Practices and Cultural Transformations
3. History and Development of the Human Remains Repository at the University of Wyoming
4. An Introduction to the Archaeology and Human Osteology of the Benick Ranch Site (48AB571)
5. The Kordell-Bordeaux Site: A Rare Native American Cemetery in Frontier Wyoming
6. Late-Nineteenth-Century Crow Mummies from Montana
7. Six Historic Chinese Burials from Southwestern Wyoming
8. Those Left Behind: An Analysis of Western Pioneer-Era Burials
9. Military Burials at Cantonment Missouri, 1819–1820, and Fort Atkinson, 1820–1827, Nebraska
10. A Bioarchaeological and Historical Analysis of an Indian Wars-Era Casualty from Platte Bridge Station, Dakota Territory
11. Northwestern Plains Indian Skeletal Remains: Metric Analysis
12. An Analysis of Discrete Cranial Traits of Northwestern Plains Indians
13. Disease and Injury Among Northwestern Plains Indians
14. Cranial Trauma in Historic Period Central and Northern Plains Indians
15. Prehistoric and Early Historic Subsistence Patterns and Dental Pathology of the Northern Great Plains
16. Sexual Dimorphism in Femoral and Humeral Head Diameters of Northwestern Plains Indians and Whites
17. Northwestern Plains Archaic Skeletons with Paleoamerican Characteristics
18. Temporal Changes in Nasal Sill Development Within the Northwestern Plains Region
19. Temporal and Geographic Variation in Vault Height in the Great Plains, Great Britain, and Northwestern Plains

References Cited
List of Contributors

Praise and Reviews:

"Very few people, other than George Gill, could have planned and coordinated this in-depth study of the human skeletal remains from both the prehistoric and early historic period of the Northwestern Plains....This [is a] remarkable addition to the literature of what the early humans in this geographic area were like and what happened to them."
—William M. Bass, University of Tennessee

"Even the casual history buff will find the volume of interest for the stories it tells and the history it illuminates. The work is an exemplar of a scientific monograph: it contains basic data for the use of future scholars, illuminates varying aspects of the record of human habitation focused on the Northwestern Plains, and offers hypotheses for future investigations—all presented within an integrated interdisciplinary framework. Hats off to George Gil and Rick Weathermon for a job well done!"
Great Plains Research

"Once in a while a book comes along that just begs to be reviewed. Just such a volume because its usefulness, its new insights on Native American, soldier, and pioneer burials, its many innovative approaches to specific research questions; and its overall synthesis of burial research in the region."
The Kansas Anthropologist

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