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In archaeology, human skeletal remains are often dealt with separately from their social context. However, by taking a biocultural approach to reconstruct both biological identity and sociocultural context, the discipline of bioarchaeology can be used to diminish this divide concerning the human body and can provide important perspectives on human behaviours. One such behaviour is caregiving, and this paper explores the ability of bioarchaeology to identify evidence of human caregiving from human remains. Tilley’s (2012) four-stage “bioarchaeology of care” methodology is reviewed as a framework for future researchers to follow. The capacity of bioarchaeology to interpret caregiving behaviour using theories of biocultural evolution and identity of the body is also explored. Although there still exists some limitations, by modeling Tilley’s (2012) methods, drawing upon social theory, and using individual case studies to make inferences about populations, bioarchaeology can provide an interdisciplinary, unique, and critical perspective on human caregiving.


Image: "Jamestown excavation" by Smithsonian Institute - Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -