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Keywords:

  • bone;
  • cremation;
  • ground section;
  • inhumation;
  • manual technique

Abstract

Light microscopy should be a routine complementary diagnostic tool for osteoarchaeologists, palaeopathologists and forensic anthropologists. However, this well-established and long existing technique is not widely utilized. It is a popular belief that the preparation of the required sections of bone tissue demands a lot of time, expensive instruments, and a knowledge of plastics. To show that this is not entirely the case, a long existing technique for the manual preparation of ground sections was brushed up and tested. Its application is simple, extremely cheap, rapid and reliable and the final product is a beautiful and intact ca. 10–15 micron or less thin section. A few modifications are proposed which further improve the feasibility of the technique, and which also make it very suitable for less well-preserved, inhumed, and even cremated osteoarchaeological/forensic remains. As in the original method, the modifications need only a few extra, but still very basic and cheap products. A detailed step by step description of the procedure is presented. The advantages are then discussed. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.