The Value of Archaeology to Forensic Anthropological Casework

Guest post by Michelle Hamilton

Forensic anthropologists conducting a surface search for scattered remains

Forensic anthropologists conducting a surface search for scattered remains

Forensic anthropologists work with law enforcement agencies and medical examiners in cases involving decomposing, skeletonized, or otherwise unidentifiable human remains. Their expertise is based upon a rigorous understanding of the human skeleton, and the ability to discern biological markers on the bones that may indicate sex, age, stature, health, and other features of a once-living individual.

The forensic anthropologist may be asked to assist with establishing the positive identification of a deceased individual, or they might be called upon to examine trauma in order to help understand the cause and/or manner of death. They are often asked to determine whether a discovered skeleton is modern, or if it represents the remains of an individual that died in historic or even archaeological times. These kinds of analytical investigations are usually morgue or laboratory-based, and are conducted on remains that have been brought in from the original discovery location. Continue reading