Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology

Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology involves utilising methods developed by biological anthropologists and traditional archaeologists within medical, legal, and humanitarian contexts. Quite often this is to assist with the location, recovery, and identification of the deceased where their remains are no longer recognisable. Forensic archaeologists specialise in interpretation of the burial or deposition environment and can assist with finding and recording human remains as well as reconstructing circumstances surrounding the disposal of remains. Forensic anthropologists are specialists in skeletal anatomy, and they also have expert knowledge related to the decomposition of human remains, interpretation of traumatic injuries and thermal damage to bone.

In the UK professional certification in Forensic Anthropology is awarded by the discipline’s professional body, the Royal Anthropological Institute. Forensic Anthropologists are certified to practice at three different levels FA-III (entry level), FA-II (competent to undertake non-complex casework), and FA-I, who also hold Chartered status. Chartered forensic anthropologists have many years of experience conducting complex casework and providing expert witness testimony in a range of different case-types. Competency in Forensic Archaeology is governed by the Chartered Institute for Archaeology. Both disciplines have professional codes of practice which have been approved and published by the Forensic Science Regulator.

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The full range of services we offer in Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology:

  • Confirmation of species (Distinguishing between human and animal remains)
  • Establishing date of remains and whether they are ancient or modern
  • Assistance with identification of deceased individuals where they are no longer recognisable due to decomposition / skeletonization, fragmentation or burning. We do this by estimating age at death, sex, stature and population affinity where possible, and assessing unique identifying features on the bones and teeth such as existing pathological conditions, healed traumatic injuries, and anatomical variations
  • Image analysis (CT, X-Ray, MRI) in the living for the purposes of:
    • detecting skeletal indicators of stress
    • estimation of age in the living (or deceased)
  • Disaster Victim Identification: assistance with recovery of bodies and body parts from disaster sites using Interpol DVI procedures; assistance with set up of temporary mortuaries and management of workflow through mortuaries; examination of body parts and forensic imagery; identification of body parts and fragments; selection and collection of postmortem DNA samples particularly where remains are burnt or highly fragmented; production of victim summary reports and expert witness statements
  • Assistance with development of search strategies for missing persons presumed to be deceased
  • Recording and recovery of dispersed unburied remains
  • Excavation of individual and mass clandestine graves