So what exactly is forensic anthropology? Think: bones. Anthropology is the study of the human condition, including physical remnants of human life and culture. Forensics refers to efforts that contribute to legal investigations, although it is most commonly associated with figuring out how someone died. Thus, forensic anthropologists have the unique role of excavating human remains and providing a detailed analysis of the bones for identification of victims and associated legal investigations.
Last week I arrived in
For at least the first few months of my time with the FAFG, I will be assisting in laboratory analysis of human remains. Using clues from different bones of the body, we can create biological profiles that consist of an individual’s sex, height, and approximate age. We then look for evidence of trauma on the skeleton. Keen examination of bone trauma perimortem – at or around the time of death – can distinguish between various types of injury that may have been the cause of death, such as sharp trauma induced by a knife or machete, gun shot wounds, or blunt trauma that would result from bludgeoning.
Many people wonder why it matters that we – quite literally – dig up the past. The short answer, on which I will into go more detail in the future, is threefold: the need for closure for families of the deceased, exposure of the truth of what took place in