Skeletal evidence of torture: How can the past inform the present?

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Victoria Tasker


torture, skeletal evidence, bioarchaeology, trauma


This essay addresses skeletal evidence of torture—an area where the current literature is minimal, and as such this essay will provide an overview that can be used as a background review in the future. Three methods of torture are presented—amputation, hobbling and beatings—and their corresponding skeletal indicators. The skeleton is a useful yet somewhat limited resource for biological and forensic anthropologists. However, it is irrefutable that the past can inform the present as shown through a discussion on the role of bioarchaeology in the development of forensic anthropology practices regarding torture.

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