Bone matters

Principal researcher: Francisca Alves Cardoso

Research group: Practices and Politics of Culture


Human osteological collections | Bone tissue | Paleobiology | Paleopathology | Human remains

Funding Institution

Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT)



Start date


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The project Bone Matters / Matérias Ósseas was born out of the escalating concerns with the use of human osteological material recovered from various settings: archaeological; contemporary cemeteries (both still in use and deactivated); forensic contexts; and anatomy museum"s collections, amongst others. It is based upon an FCT Researcher project (IF/00127/2014) entitled Portuguese Collections of Human Identified Skeletons: Legal and ethical framework / Colecções Portuguesas de Esqueletos Humanos Identificados: Enquadramento ético e legal, articulating with its objectives specifically those concerning the genesis and consolidation of a new research group in the field of human osseous material, studies of the biology of osseous tissue, and their interdisciplinary nature; and the orientation of students/researchers developing innovative and transversal studies in human and social sciences, as well as medical and natural sciences. The project Bone Matters/Matérias Ósseas has, therefore, two primary study/research objectives: 1) to highlight the biological component associated with the study of human osteological material - focusing on the biological matter composing the osseous material, its development and interaction with the environment (within the individual and around him); 2) to highlight and value the importance of the study of osseous material as a vector for theoretical discussions regarding the study of human beings in their contexts (social, cultural and environmental), their use as an object for theoretical, scientific and practical matters (contents) of culture and teaching, and their role in the construction of cultural politics and practices (e.g. NAGPRA - Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, amongst others). All work conducted within Bone Matters/Matérias Ósseas is developed in LABOH (Laboratório de Antropologia Biológica e Osteologia Humana/Biological Anthropology and Human Osteology Laboratory), fitting the themes explored by CRIA"s Research Groups: in the Group Desafios Ambientais, Sustentabilidade e Etnografia/Environment, Sustainability and Ethnography; and in the Group Práticas e Políticas da Cultura/Practices and Politics of Culture. Those willing to contribute to LABOH"s develop, via independent research, Masters and PhD thesis are more than welcome to get in touch at: francicard@fcsh.unl.pt.