• archaeology;
  • bone;
  • eosin;
  • haematoxylin;
  • histology;
  • manual;
  • palaeopathology;
  • staining


The histological staining of bone tissue is of great value in identifying structural changes in human bone tissue when examined microscopically, and is therefore routinely used by clinical pathologists. However, for archaeological and other types of undecalcified dry bone tissue, histochemical staining is currently not widely used. The purpose of this paper is to describe a new method developed for the staining of undecalcified archaeological bone which may be a valuable addition to the palaeopathological toolkit. Sections were ground by hand and stained with haematoxylin and eosin. The microstructure and architecture of the stained sections become clearly visible without compromising total tissue envisioning. In addition, staining enhances differentiation between taphonomically affected and non-affected bone tissue. This paper accordingly describes a reproducible stepwise method for the production of ground stained sections. An additional troubleshooting paragraph discusses the most often encountered problems and provides solutions. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.