Burned bones talk about ancient civilisations.
Festa G., Andreani C., Baldoni M., Cipollari V., Mart`inez-Labarga C., Martini F., Rickards O., Rolfo M.F., Sarti L., Volante N., Senesi R., Stasolla F.R., Parker S.F., Vassalo A.R., Mamede A.P., Batista de Carvalho L.A.E., Marques M.P.M.
VI - Fisica applicata, acceleratori e beni culturali
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Burned skeletal remains are abundant in archaeological and paleontological sites as a result of fire or ancient funerary practices. In the burning process the bone matrix suffers structural and dimensional variations which interfere with the reliability of the available osteometric methods. Recent studies showed that these macroscopic changes are accompanied by microscopic variations, that are reflected in the vibrational spectra. An innovative integrated approach to the study of archaeological combusted skeletal remains is reported, through complementary vibrational spectroscopy techniques - INS (inelastic neutron scattering), FTIR (Fourier transform infrared) and microRaman - enabling the access to the complete vibrational profile and constituting the first application of neutron spectroscopy to ancient bones. Comparison with data from modern human bones subject to controlled burning allowed to identify specific heating conditions. This pioneering study provides archaeologists and anthropologists with relevant information on past civilizations, namely regarding funerary, burial and cooking practices and environmental settings.