Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Tal Simmons

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert Anemone

Third Advisor

Dr. Laura Junker

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Previous taphonomic studies have failed to fully study how freeze-thaw cycles, fresh water immersion and salt water immersion affect bone microstructure. Knowledge of how these environs modify bone can help narrow post mortem interval estimations or allow medico legal investigators to differentiate between perimortem damage and damage caused by the surroundings. To date, previous studies of water immersion and freeze-thaw cycles have failed either to relate their findings to forensic taphonomy or to address how bone microstructure was modified. This study was conducted to determine how bone was modified by freeze-thaw cycles and water immersion and to apply the findings to forensic taphonomy.

A set of humeri and ribs of freshly killed pigs was subjected to six freeze-thaw cycles. Another set was subjected to immersion for eight weeks in an aquarium filled with fresh water, while the last set was immersed for eight weeks in an aquarium filled with salt water. The samples from all treatments were cross-sectioned, embedded, and sectioned. Microscopic study of the samples yielded no results, which correlated to treatment. When compared against a set of control samples, those subjected to treatment did not appear to differ morphologically.

Included in

Anthropology Commons