New Directions in the Skeletal Biology of Greeceby Chryssi Bourbou, Sherry C. Fox, Lynne A. Schepartz
Pub. Date: 04/06/2009
Publisher: American School of Classical Studies at Athens
Physical anthropology, the study of human skeletal remains, has assumed an increasingly important role in the archaeology of Greece over the past 30 years, both in the field and in interpretive research. In addition to including stimulating case studies, ranging in date from the Palaeolithic to modern periods, the 17 chapters in this book provide an overview of bioarchaeological research across Greece and Cyprus. The volume is the first in a series of monographs from the Wiener Laboratory at the ASCSA that demonstrates the impact of archaeological science on Mediterranean archaeology.
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The main issue with this book is that it does not deliver what it promises: those familiar with Greek bioarchaeology and funerary studies will feel that the book covers areas already explored and not any "new directions". This is mainly due to the editors' and publishers' questionable criteria of paper selection and their interventions in the form of the submitted papers, photos and bibliography. On the other hand, Buikstra and Lagia, with their chapter "Bioarchaeological Approaches to Aegean Archaeology" (p.7) do try to deliver an overview of the "new directions" the book promises. They mention the names and the works of many scholars, including the interdisciplinary work of Little, Triantaphyllou, Tritsaroli, Tsaliki, Karali and Nafplioti. Why these scholars have been left out this volume then? Shouldn't this volume be inclusive and truly bioarchaeological, instead of devoting so many chapters in purely biological studies? And why is the emphasis of "Skeletal Biology" only on human bones? In brief, although some of the papers are interesting and a recommended reading, the book as a concept and a finished product has many shortcomings, which cannot be analysed in detail in this short review, and it simply does not deliver.