Wide-field polarized light and epifluorescence microscopy have been used to enhance analysis of archaeological bone tissue, providing information on bone formation, modeling, pathology, preservation, age estimation, and biomechanics. Though valuable, these techniques are limited by their inability to remove out-of-focus light and view multiple levels of a sample, restricting our understanding of the three-dimensional (3-D) microarchitecture of compact bone. Modern technological advances, such as microscopic computerized tomography, allow increasing resolution in 3-D bone imaging, but do not allow fluorescence labeling or polarized-light analysis. Confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) is a valuable tool for 3-D histology. However, its application to the study of compact bone is lacking, especially in archaeological and forensic sciences. The current study investigated CLSM as a tool for fluorescence and polarized-light microscopy of archaeological compact bone in order to demonstrate its advantages. Standard techniques and CLSM are compared in their suitability for imaging well preserved archaeological bones from the Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt. CLSM's high resolution, multi-channel, two- and three-dimensional capabilities augment the flexibility and creativity of compact bone imaging and have the potential to increase the accuracy of quantitative medical and anthropological histomorphometric techniques. CLSM is specifically suggested as a useful tool for the investigation of ancient bone fluorescence caused by the presence of tetracycline and/or other fluorochromes. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2009.06.021.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/john_biggerstaff/1/