International Council
for Archaeozoology

Taphonomy Working Group

 In the Fall 2009 International Committee (IC) approved the establishment of the Taphonomy Working Group. The first meeting to set up this working group was held during the 11th ICAZ Conference (Paris, France) in August 2010. Since then, the TWG has been a very active group. Currently, it has more than 70 members from 20 countries and three international workshops have been organized: in Paris (2010), Santander, Spain (2012) and the last one in San Lorenzo, Argentina (2014). Currently, the number of professionals working on taphonomy is steadily increasing and their contribution to prestigious scientific journals is becoming a regular trend. However, no formal international forum specific to taphonomy existed in which scholars could disseminate new research and exchange knowledge and experience. The Taphonomy Working Group (TWG) was created to fill this void and encourage wider dissemination and greater collaboration and inter-disciplinarity in taphonomic research. Key subjects include (but are not restricted to):

  • Diachronic and regional differences in the butchering process: identification and interpretation at prehistoric sites
  • Approaches to anthropogenic bone breakage interpretation
  • Equifinality in body part representation: human behaviour versus attrition
  • Carnivores: experimental studies, methods of recognition
  • Other biological agents: weathering, birds, rodents, insects, etc and their effect on the deposit
  • The structural properties of bone and the susceptibility of different classes of remains to modification and destruction.
  • Approaches to diagenesis (including histology, isotopic, aDNA, etc.)


The first meeting was held to set up the working group which was during the 11th ICAZ Conference (Paris, France) in August 2010. After that, two other international workshops have been organised. The second one in 2012 in Santander, Spain and last one in 2014 during the 12th ICAZ meeting held in Argentina. Paris will hold the fourth conference of the group between 7th-10th of September in 2016.


During the last ICAZ meeting in Argentina, the TWG members proposed to achieve the following projects with a worldwide participation:

  • Global weathering Project - This project aims to monitor carcasses in different environments and climates to define accurate weathering processes and review Behrensmeyer’s stages proposed back in 1978. With the purpose of getting comparable data, basic protocols will be established according to the experience of colleagues working on these issues. The project will be led by members of the TWG in various geographical regions. So far, taphonomist colleagues from India, Africa, South America and Spain have shown interest in taking part. From the TWG we encourage to members and non-members to contribute in this experimental study.
  • Glosary - The goal of this project is to standardize the nomenclature used in taphonomic studies and to create a glossary.



Please contact with the Coordinator and Liaison if you are interested in joining the group: Ana Belen Marín

This information has been contributed by Ana Belen Marín, TWG Liaison to ICAZ. Last updated: August 1, 2016.