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Anal Bioanal Chem. 2007 Feb;387(3):821-8. Epub 2006 Sep 14.

Raman spectroscopic analysis of human remains from a seventh century cist burial on Anglesey, UK.

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  • 1Molecular Spectroscopy Laboratory, University Analytical Centre, Chemical and Forensic Sciences, University of Bradford, Bradford, BD7 1DP, UK.


Specimens from human remains exhibiting unusual preservation excavated from a seventh century stone cist burial at Towyn y Capel in Anglesey, UK, have been analysed using Raman spectroscopy with near-infrared laser excitation at 1,064 and 785 nm. Specimens of hair and bone provided evidence for severe degradation and microbial colonisation. The deposits within the stone cist showed that some microbially mediated compounds had been formed. Analysis of crystals found at the interface between the hair and the skeletal neck vertebrae revealed a mixture of newberyite and haematite, associated with decomposition products of the hair and bone. An interesting differential degradation was noted in the specimens analysed which could be related to the air-void and the presence of plant root inclusions into the stone cist. This is the first time that Raman spectroscopy has been used in the forensic archaeological evaluation of burial remains in complex and dynamic environments.

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