International Council
for Archaeozoology

Taphonomy Working Group

 In Fall 2009, the International Committee (IC) of ICAZ approved the establishment of the Taphonomy Working Group (TWG). 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 100 members from 20 countries and six international workshops have been organized: in Paris, France (2010), Santander, Spain (2012) San Rafael, Argentina (2014), Paris, France (2016), Ankara, Turkey (2018), and Madrid, Spain (2022). 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 multidisciplinary 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.)


Last meeting:

Since its creation, the TWG meeting have been celebrated biannual meetings. However, the pandemic situation delayed the 2020 meeting to be held in Madrid until this year, 2022.

From the 5th-12th June, the Taphonomy Working Group held its 6th meeting in Alcala de Henares, Madrid.

We joined two leading congresses - TAPHOS and the Taphonomy Working Group (TWG) of the ICAZ - in the same 2022 meeting to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Efremov’s Taphonomy proposal as a scientific discipline.

The congress took place in Alcalá de Henares (Madrid, Spain), between 5th - 11thJune 2022 ,in the Aula Magna, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas (Universidad de Alcalá)

TAPHOS counts with significant participation of specialists in vertebrate and invertebrate taphonomy, while ICAZ and the Taphonomy Working Group are devoted to Quaternary taphonomic research with a particular focus on sites with human involvement. Thus, we join the 6th TWG-ICAZ and the 9th TAPHOS to bring together palaeontologists, archaeologists, biologists and, very significantly, zooarchaeologists that have not been assiduously attending TAPHOS in the last years. We want other researchers interested in all aspects of taphonomy i.e. forensic scholars, palaeocology/palaeoclimate/histology expertise, and geologists involved in the site formation, to celebrate this event.

TAPHOS-TWG/ICAZ celebrates the30th anniversary of Taphonomy and Fossilization (TaFos). In 1990, the first edition was devised by Sixto Fernández López at the CSIC (Madrid). During the first Taphos, the masterpiece “Owls, Caves and Fossils” by P. Andrews was presented, and since then, this book has been a reference bibliography for small mammal taphonomy.

This congress paid a special tribute to Sixto Fernández López, founder of these congresses, for his invaluable contribution to the Taphonomy theory and to Peter Andrews for his innovative work on small mammal taphonomic methodology and palaeoenvironmental interpretations.

Previous Taphonomy and Fossilization meetings were held in Madrid 1990, Zaragoza 1995, Valencia 2002, Barcelona 2005, Granada 2008, Tübingen 2011, Ferrara 2014 Viena 2017. Therefore, the return of TAPHOS to Madrid is an especially relevant event to the Spanish Taphonomists.

The Taphonomy Working Group ( ) is one of the recognized ICAZ Working Groups and this year will be held its 6th meeting, after those celebrated in Paris (2010), Santander (2012), San Lorenzo (2014), Paris (2016) and Ankara (2018). All of them have been regularly published in international journals.

The sessions will be organized by “TaphoSystems”, a term proposed by Sixto Fernández López that refers to fossil associations + the external environment in which they were preserved. These sessions will facilitate connecting experts from different backgrounds working in similar environments.

  • Karstic Taphosystem
  • Lacustrine Taphosystem
  • Fluvial Taphosystem
  • Marine Taphosystem
  • Open air Taphosystem
  • Taphonomy in Palaeoecology and Palaeoclimate interpretations
  • Experimental Taphonomy and other Environments

These sessions will also include the aspects that caused the origin of Taphonomy for Efremov being one of the primary research topics of Peter Andrews.

We are honoured to have the participation of A.K.Behrensmeyer as keynote speaker of the inaugural session and Christiane Denys will give the Good-Bye keynote speech at this special celebration.


The TWG is publishing regularly the proceedings of the meetings in peer-review journals.


Currently, a Global Weathering project, led by Yolanda Fernandez-Jalvo, to replicate the Behrensmeyer experiment but in different regions and climate at the same time, is being achieved by TWG members worldwide. Any research interested in taking part is welcome. More info at:



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: May 24, 2022.