ANTH 2070 Bones, Bodies, and Disease

About the Course

This course has two major objectives. First, it will give you the opportunity to analyze human skeleton remains using techniques used to evaluate demographic variables, such as age at death, sex and health. Second, you will learn how to reconstruct patterns of prehistoric adaptation and biocultural evolution based on human skeletal remains. Although you will use a textbook as a reference, you will primarily study photographic images of a mummified skeletal population from Kulubnarti in Sudanese, Nubia, dating from 550 to 1450 A.D. to complete these objectives. In many cases, you will study individual bones or groups of bones, and in Unit 7 you will have the opportunity to view the most well preserved mummies from this collection of over 400 individuals. Although this course cannot replace a hands-on laboratory experience, it does allow you to have access to a skeletal collection that until now has been almost exclusively used for research.


By the end of this course, successful students are expected to be able to:

  • Identify major bones and features of the human skeleton.
  • Conduct basic analysis of human skeletal remains, including assessment of age at death, sex, disease and trauma.
  • Construct a life table and analyze survivorship curves to evaluate patterns of death at the populational level.
  • Reconstruct patterns of prehistoric adaptation and biocultural evolution based on human skeletal remains.

Grade Breakdown

  • Unit assignments (8 total): 60%
  • Midterm assignment: 20%
  • Final assignment: 20%

Required Text

Human Osteology, Second Edition by TD White and PA Folkens, 2000, Academic Press, San Diego, CA. (ISBN 0-12-746612-6).

Instructor Contact

Phone: (970) 247-7500


Dawn Mulhern received her MA and PhD in Anthropology from the University of Colorado Boulder. Dr. Mulhern is currently an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, where she has worked since 2005. From 1998 to 2005, Dr. Mulhern worked as a contractor for the Repatriation Osteology Laboratory at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, where she documented Native American skeletal remains prior to repatriation. Her research interests include bone histology, bioarchaeology, and paleopathology, and forensic anthropology. Dr. Mulhern has conducted skeletal research at Giza, Egypt and is currently studying skeletal collections in the American Southwest. She also serves as a consultant in forensic anthropology to local law enforcement and is a member of DMORT, a national disaster response team.

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Monday – Friday
8:00am to 5:00pm


We are located at the corner of University Avenue and 15th Street in a white brick building.


1505 University Avenue
University of Colorado Boulder
178 UCB
Boulder, Colorado