Amsterdam Research Initiative for Sub-surface Taphonomy and Anthropology (ARISTA) - A taphonomic research facility in the Netherlands for the study of human remains

Roelof-Jan Oostra*, Tamara Gelderman, W J Mike Groen, H Gepke Uiterdijk, Erik L H Cammeraat, Tristan Krap, Leah S Wilk, Mark Lüschen, W Elly Morriën, Frans Wobben, Wilma L J M Duijst, Maurice C G Aalders

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


A taphonomic research facility for the study of human remains was recently realized in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to systematically investigate the decomposition of the human body under known conditions. Governmental authorization was obtained to make use of the body donation program of the Amsterdam University Medical Centers, location Academic Medical Center, for this specific purpose. In contrast to the small number of comparable initiatives elsewhere, this facility specifically allows for the study of buried bodies e.g. with the use of telemetry and remote sensing. Here, we discuss the concept of body donation in the Netherlands, its role in taphonomic research, and the sequence of events that preceded the realization of this facility, which is the first of its kind in Europe. In addition to offering novel research options to the scientific community, we hope that it will also pave the way for the successful realization of similar initiatives in other locations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110483
Number of pages6
JournalForensic Science International
Early online dateDec 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Forensic archaeology
  • Remote sensing
  • Telemetry
  • Body donation
  • Human taphonomy
  • BODY

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