Quantifying histological changes in archaeological bones using BSE–SEM image analysis



Recent years have seen rapid developments in the understanding of diagenetic changes to archaeological bones. In particular, the degradation or preservation of proteins and other biomolecules has been explored using an increasingly sophisticated battery of analytical techniques. Problems remain, however, in correlating these parameters with physical changes to bone that may be observed microscopically. This is due, in part, to the problems in reproducibly quantifying histological changes to archaeological bone. This paper introduces a novel method for the accurate quantification of these changes employing image analysis of SEM images. Self–consistency of results was tested using measurements of total calcium content at different magnifications. The term ‘bioerosion index’ is suggested for the measured parameter.