CHAPTER 14Archaeological inference and its application to forensic anthropology

C. Clifford Boyd Jr1 and William W. Baden2

1 Department of Anthropological Sciences, Radford University Forensic Science Institute, Radford University, Radford, VA, USA

2 Institutional Research, Indiana University–Purdue University, Fort Wayne, IN, USA

14.1 Introduction

In examining archaeological inference and its influence (potential and realized) on forensic anthropology, it is important to initially address theoretical perspectives in archaeology, since they guide inferences about and interpretations of the archaeological record. Since the 1960s and 1970s, American archaeology in particular has been heavily influenced by theoretical approaches that attempt to form a stronger link between archaeology and science, ideally resulting in more scientific inferences about the past (Binford, 1972, 1983, 1989; Schiffer, 1976; South, 1977). Variously referred to as “processual archaeology” or “behavioral archaeology” by its proponents, this theoretical orientation championed “theory building” through middle‐range research, linking theoretical concepts to actual, observable material objects, and through experimentation, reconstructing the past behavior that created them (Groen et al., 2015a).

Middle‐range research is most often based on scientific experimentation. Lithic use‐wear analysis (Keeley, 1980; Vaughan, 1985), for example, provided direct microscopic evidence for stone tool use. Specialized chemical ...

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