Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Bernardo Arriaza

Number of Pages



While museums and other facilities housing human remains will obviously vary in the organization and documentation of remains, most realized in the 1990's much could be done to improve conditions. Due to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 and the inventories required therein, UNLV human remains collections were examined or re-examined and some were found with little or no accompanying information. Some of these remains were skeletonized and others mummified, as the study of mummified remains is a specialty within physical anthropology incorporating a multi-disciplinary focus, few if any have likely been fully examined; Therefore, this research has focused on documentation and establishment of identity for mummified human remains lacking context. The primary hypothesis stated that unprovenanced human mummified remains can be culturally and biologically affiliated through a process of documentation and analyses that functions along a continuum from simple non-invasive investigation to complex invasive techniques; With the intent to examine the 13 unprovenanced mummified human remains, it quickly became apparent that there was no "standard" for use in the study of mummified remains. An extensive review of the scientific literature produced six theoretically based methodologies employed over the last 200 years: description, disease processes, genetics, environment, archaeology, and bioarchaeology. A blending of these approaches was used to create a set of guidelines for the examination of mummified remains from the most basic documentary work to a full scientific study; This research has shown that while unprovenanced remains may not be ethnically identified, enough information was present to re-contextualize them in the historic and/or prehistoric past. The two-step guideline for the study of mummified human remains was found to be an excellent method and represents a standard for museums or other holding facilities in similar situations to employ. (Abstract shortened by UMI.).


Assessment; Collections Management; Human; Human Remains; Identity; Identity Assessment; Mummified; Recontextualization; Remains; Unprovenienced

Controlled Subject

Physical anthropology

File Format


File Size

16517.12 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




If you are the rightful copyright holder of this dissertation or thesis and wish to have the full text removed from Digital Scholarship@UNLV, please submit a request to and include clear identification of the work, preferably with URL.