Authored by: Juliette Michel , Philippe Charlier

The Routledge Handbook of Archaeological Human Remains and Legislation

Print publication date:  March  2011
Online publication date:  March  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415588577
eBook ISBN: 9780203838716
Adobe ISBN: 9781136879562


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At its inception, French anthropology primarily focused on the study of the biology and evolution of the human species. Research of skeletal remains takes its roots from the school of naturalism in Western Europe at the beginning of the 19th century. The publication of Recherche sur les ossements fossiles by Georges Cuvier (1820), was followed by the work of the Belgian researcher Philippe-Charles Schmerling with Description des ossements fossiles à létat pathologique provenant des cavernes de Lièges (1835) and the German Philipp Franz Von Walther with Ueber das Alterthum der Knochenkrankheiten (1825). Both Schmerling and Von Walther proposed a scientific classification of human bones and identification of pathological lesions. However, an explicit definition of the discipline had not yet materialized, with additional branches of research, such as morphology, physiology and evolutionary theory adding to the confusion. Nevertheless, physical anthropology would be led by two major schools of thought, the French school supervised by Broca, and the English school by Virchow.

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