The Evolution of the Osteobiography: Medical Curiosities to Integrated Human Microhistories

About this Seminar

First coined by forensic anthropologist Clyde Snow in the 1970s, the term “osteobiography” broadly refers to the reconstruction of key aspects of an individual’s identity from their skeletal remains. The concept has its roots in the hobbyist anthropology of 19th century medicos and has since been adopted by forensic scientists and bioarchaeologists. Twenty-first century bioarchaeology has seen a general movement away from the individual and towards the study of assemblage-based trends in order to address broad regional and temporal questions. However, there are a growing number of scholars within the discipline advocating a renewed appreciation of the osteobiography as a vital source of information on the embodied effects of past biological and social environments. In this seminar, I will discuss the evolution of the osteobiography from a superficial record of demographic data and pathological oddities to a nuanced, multidisciplinary portrait of a human life in relationship with their larger society and environment.

About the Speaker

Annie Sohler-Snoddy is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Otago. Her expertise centres around skeletal markers of nutritional stress in archaeological
human remains and her current project involves analysis of histopathological changes associated with vitamin D deficiency in 19th century Pākehā (European) and Chinese settlers to New Zealand. She has a strong interest in interdisciplinary work addressing broad anthropological questions from the perspective of human physiology.

Date & time

Thu 25 Mar 2021, 4–5pm


Online webinar, free and open to all.


Dr Annie Sohler-Snoddy, University of Otago


Dr Stacey Ward


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