Author: Lam, Vienna ChiChi
This aquatic field experiment examined the effect of freshwater submergence on sectioned sub-adult Ovis aries (domestic sheep) femoral cortical bone discs. As a proxy for skeletonized human remains, samples (n = 130) were deployed across ten sites at Marion Lake, B.C., Canada. Specimens were recovered consecutively over a 16-month period and analyzed macroscopically and microscopically for structural (artefact, abrasion, cracking, bioerosion) and colour change. Atmospheric, lake surface, and core temperature were also monitored, along with precipitation, water pH, cage movement, and elemental analysis of silt composition. Bivariate analyses show a significant relationship between taphonomic signifiers and the location of submergence, elapsed time of submergence, and findings suggest that seasonality may impact the rate of decomposition. The location of the cages was linked to the appearance of periosteal abrasion and encrustation, and the loss of pre-deployment artefacts also suggests that intentional human-induced disarticulation of bones might be obscured over time.
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Thesis advisor: Bell, Lynne
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