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What the Bones Tell Us
By Jeffrey H. Schwartz
292 pp. / 6.00 in x 9.00 in / 1997
Paper (978-0-8165-1855-5)
Related Interest
  - Archaeology
  - Anthropology

A physical anthropologist exposes the inner workings of archaeology and anthropology, illustrating what can be learned from fossils and fragments of ancient cultures and civilizations. Schwartz ranges
Scholarly sleuth Schwartz actually helps solve murders while exploring human evolution.

—Columbia Magazine

It demonstrates how the skills of the forensic anthropologist carry over to the study of ancient populations when these are represented by a preserved skeletal series in a mortuary deposit. . . . Schwartz ably demonstrates how through such investigations new data can become available on matters about which historical records and other archaeological materials are silent.


In a field often ruled by cockiness, Schwartz's reticence to make judgments is refreshing. Related to this, and even more welcome, is his rejection of scientific dogma. . . . Schwartz gives us the bare bones and more about the science of osteological analysis.

—Kirkus Reviews

Students of osteology and anatomy will learn much from Mr. Schwartz's book, which is actually several books in one. From his excavations of charred bones from an ancient Carthaginian cemetery, for instance, Mr. Schwartz presents evidence that the Carthaginians, infamous for their alleged practice of casting children into sacrificial flames, may have used aborted fetuses rather than live children as sacrifices. In another section of the book, Mr. Schwartz defends his belief that modern human beings are more closely related to orangutans than to either chimpanzees or gorillas. He believes this hotly contested view may be buttressed by the fact that of all female primates, only humans and orangutans lack an estrus cycle and are therefore always receptive to sexual activity.

—Malcolm W. Browne, New York Times Book Review

An easily readable, informative, enjoyable, thought-provoking commentary, interspersed with warm, refreshing tales. . . . It should interest both general and medical readers, dealing as it does with a subject that is near and dear to our hearts: our bones.

—Journal of the American Medical Association

from digs in the Negev Desert through Africa and Europe to the local coroner's office to explain how interpretations of the past are made.

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