Luminescence of thermally altered human skeletal remains

Tristan Krap, Kevin Nota, Leah Wilk, Frank van de Goot, Jan Ruijter, Wilma Duijst, Roelof Jan Oostra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Literature on luminescent properties of thermally
altered human remains is scarce and contradictory.
Therefore, the luminescence of heated bone was systemically
reinvestigated. A heating experiment was conducted
on fresh human bone, in two different media, and cremated
human remains were recovered from a modern crematory.
Luminescence was excited with light sources within the
range of 350 to 560 nm. The excitation light was filtered
out by using different long pass filters, and the luminescence
was analysed by means of a scoring method. The
results show that temperature, duration and surrounding
medium determine the observed emission intensity and
bandwidth. It is concluded that the luminescent characteristic
of bone can be useful for identifying thermally alteredhuman remains in a difficult context as well as yield information
on the perimortem and postmortem events.
Keywords Luminescence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1165-1177
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Legal Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


  • Luminescence
  • Bone
  • Heat
  • Cremation
  • Forensic anthropology
  • BONE
  • TIME

Cite this

Krap, T., Nota, K., Wilk, L., van de Goot, F., Ruijter, J., Duijst, W., & Oostra, R. J. (2017). Luminescence of thermally altered human skeletal remains. International Journal of Legal Medicine, 131(4), 1165-1177.