Skeletal Biology Laboratory


196 Anthropology and Art Practice Building (Formely Known As Kroeber Hall)

Representative Publications

Social Bioarchaeology, Sabrina C. Agarwal & Bonnie A. Glencross (Editors) 2011

Bone Loss and Osteoporosis: An Anthropological Perspective, Sabrina C. Agarwal & Sam D. Stout (Editors) 2003

Agarwal, S.C. (2022). What does a pandemic response and recovery look like through the lens of anthropogenic violence and inequality? Economic Anthropology, 9(1). 158-162.

Agarwal, S.C. (2021). What is normal bone health? An anthropological perspective on meaningful measures and interpretations of bone strength, loss, and aging”. Special issue: “The Normal and the Normative in Human Biology”, Jennifer M. Cullin and Virginia J. Vitzhum (editors). American Journal of Human Biology. Volume 33, Issue 5. pp1-23.

Agarwal, S.C. and Brenda Baker (2021). From the Foundation to a Vision of the Future: A Note from the Founding Editors. Bioarchaeology International, VOL. 4 NO. 3–4 (2020).  

Agarwal, S.C (2016) Bone morphologies and histories: Life course approaches in bioarchaeology. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology, Am. J. Phys. Anthropol., 159: S130–S149

Agarwal, S.C (2012). A Bioarchaeology of Social Identity. New Directions in Bioarchaeology Part II. The SAA Archaeological Record. May 2012: 29-33

Agarwal, S.C (2012) The Past of Sex, Gender, and Health: Bioarchaeology of the Aging Skeleton. American Anthropologist 114(2):322-335

Research Description

The primary focus of the Agarwal Skeletal Biology Lab is the study of mineralized tissue (skeletal and dental) to investigate novel anthropological questions with a biocultural approach. Our current research is fundamentally concerned with understanding the relationship between biology and social behavior as related to bone health and development over the life course.

The work in the lab emphasizes the combined use of multiple lines of evidence driven by lab or field data on bone/dental biology together with the use of contextual (archaeological, historical, archival, ethnographic, clinical/model) data. The lab specializes in the gross, histomorphological (microscopy), and biomechanical analysis, and preparation of skeletal and/or dental tissues for computed tomography, molecular, and chemical/isotopic analyses.

The research scope is global, with a temporal focus on the contemporary, historic and prehistoric. Recent bioarchaeological research in the lab has contributed to projects in Britain, Colombia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands, North America, Portugal, and Turkey. The longstanding research foci has been on human bone development and senescence, and understanding the entangled experiences of disease with sex/gender, with current projects aimed to examine issues of developmental plasticity, labour, diet, social inequality and structural violence, disability, and religious practice. We aim to cultivate a reflexive practice that challenges issues of diversity and bioethics in bioarchaeology.

Lab Overview

The Skeletal Biology Laboratory (SBL) handles the gross examination and analysis of osteological samples (archaeological and modern human; and biomedical animal model specimens), the histological preparation of skeletal and/or dental tissues, and the microscopic analysis of these specimens. Preparation is also undertaken of specimens for radiography, computed tomography, chemical/isotopic analyses, and image analysis (quantitative histomorphometry and cross-sectional geometry).

See some of our current primary research interests at: