The elemental concentration in buried human bones is studied by energy dispersive x-ray fluorescence. Several cortical and trabecular bones: skulls, peroneus, mandibles, tibias, femurs, ribs, vertebras and omoplates, belonging to a population dating to the Middle Ages were analysed. The purpose of this study is to compare the behaviour of the different structures of the several bones during the diagenetic process affecting bone during burial. Quantitative analysis was performed for K, Ca, Zn, Sr, Ti, Mn, Fe and Pb and cluster analysis was achieved considering the elemental concentrations for the different bones. There is a clear distinction for bone association regarding Ca, Zn, Sr and K, Mn, Fe, Ti and Pb in the several bones. These results do not allow a clear categorization into cortical and trabecular bones for some of the samples studied, as far as distinguishing between the remains of the original bone and the environmental contamination from the surrounding soil. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.