FORENSIC ANTHROPOLOGY. ANTH-430. What will you get out of this course?. Knowledge of the Human Skeleton Understanding of the Process of Decomposition Understand the Processes of Taphonomy Knowledge of Proper retrieval methods
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What is Forensic Anthropology?
“anthropology” = the study of
“forensic” = argument to a court during a trial.
– Human Osteology
- Archaeological Field Method
to the LEGAL process
These methods aid law
enforcement in the collection
& analysis of the human
remains to establish the
biological profile & cause or death
Detail from Albinus, 1747
BBC In pictures: Burma aid effort
Members of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and local villagers work together excavating a crash site in Dong Hoi, Vietnam, July 16, 2006. A 15-member JPAC team including a forensic anthropologist, …. will be working in Vietnam for a month attempting to recover the remains of pilots that crashed in the area during the Vietnam War.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Derrick C. Goode)
El Salvador, 1992.An Argentine forensic anthropology team worker helps excavate the site of the El Mozote massacre, where a Salvadoran army battalion killed about 800 villagers, almost half of them children. Credit: Daniel Muzio
Pinpointing time of death is critical evidence for crime scene investigators. Methods vary depending on whether the remains are prehistoric, historic, or recent. For recent remains, techniques vary based on the condition of the remains: fresh, decomposed, mummified, or skeletalized. Procedures include analysis using chemical tests, entomology, and investigation of context / associated artifacts.
Remains are often delivered with no idea as to their identity. Discovery of sex, age, ancestry, height, and individuating characteristics are used to help determine identity.
Detailed investigation as to the exact cause of death often answers many other questions. For decomposed remains, more common methods involve the analysis of skeletal trauma and bone fracture.
Remains can be altered by humans attempting to destroy evidence, animals, insects and many other factors.
Detail from Cheselden, 1741
A poster encourages relatives of Srebrenica massacre victims to give a blood sample at the International Commission on Missing Persons' (ICMP) Podrinje Identification Project Center 2005, in Bosnia Herzegovina.
(Photo by Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images)
Unidentified remains of 7 Georgian soldiers killed in the S. Ossetian conflict zone. Tbilisi, 2008.
In the Beginnings:
In 1979 he wrote:
He also contributed to the development of the discipline by organizing seminars on skeletal identification
In 1971 William Bass wrote:
Human Osteology: A Laboratory & Field Manual