Grave Goods

In the archaeology of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was the articles, or artifacts surrounding a burial or lying within a tomb, that fascinated both researchers and the public in general. Clearly, items such as gold, ceramics, textiles, and jewelry were coveted for study and private collection, so much so that even in antiquity, fakes were made to provide income for the artifact "salesmen," an art form still practiced to this day, and meet the market demand for those objects. It was not until the early 20th century that researchers realized something very important: (1) the human remains were also important in the understanding of the culture under investigation, and (2) the associated grave goods, when considered along with the remains, could yield more meaningful information. This interrelationship among the remains, the context, and the grave goods resulted in the birth of a discipline now called bioarchaeology (Buikstra and Beck 2006).

The associated context of grave goods, coffins, context, and condition of the human or animal remains paints a much more inclusive picture of what may have been the life experiences of individuals in ancient as well as historic times. Therefore, the analysis of grave goods is a critical aspect of a broader study whose goal is to understand the human experience on earth. In this chapter, we discuss the paleoimaging of artifacts within the internal context, that is, those artifacts found within the mummified remains or held within the wrappings.

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