The Sequence of Bone Staining and its Applications to the Postmortem Interval




Sauerwein, Kelly

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Taphonomic analyses have become a fundamental aspect in forensic anthropology,especially in the estimation of time since death in medicolegal investigations. As a result,more emphasis has been placed on examining the specific taphonomic agents encountered by forensic anthropologists and law enforcement. This thesis examined the causes and sequence of one such taphonomic agent, bone staining. While staining has been reported in the literature, detailed quantitative data on its causes and sequence is limited. Therefore, this study analyzed the patterning, timing, and properties of bone stains to determine if estimates of the postmortem interval, or time since death, can be accomplished. The appearance and progression of bone staining were also examined utilizing fleshed and skeletonized porcine remains that were be placed in a burial depositional context. Over a period of five months, visual and photo-documentary observations were made and characteristics pertaining to bone staining such as color, location, and timing were recorded. Results indicated that although changes in bone color occurred, a sequence of bone staining that could be utilized for time since death estimations could not be determined. However, this does not prevent such a method as proposed here from being expanded and improved upon by forensic anthropologists and others within the medicolegal community.



Forensic, Staining, Bones, Postmortem interval, Time since death, Anthropology


Sauerwein, K. (2011). The sequence of bone staining and its applications to the postmortem interval (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


Rights Holder

Rights License

Rights URI