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Forensic Science 211

FOSC 211: Forensic Archaeology

Prerequisites:  ANSC 101 or permission of instructor

Coss-Listed: ANSC 211

An introduction to the major methods of forensic archaeology, the application of archaeological theory and method to crime scene investigation and recovery. A focus will be on field methods for search and recovery of human remains and other forensic evidence, including mapping and geophysical remote sensing methods, initial recognition and excavation of human and other forensic remains, and collection of soil, botanical, and entomological evidence. Through a combination of lecture and field exercises, the course will also consider the major variables which affect recognition and recovery of forensic remains, including the taphonomic effects of weathering, natural decay, water, fire, faunal and floral degradation.

Note(s): Students cannot receive credit for both ANTH 232 and ANSC 211.

Detailed Description of Content of Course

Course topics include the following:

1. Introduction to Forensic Anthropology and Forensic Archaeology
2. Search Techniques in Locating Human Remains
3. Ground Penetrating Radar
4. Other Geophysical Search Techniques
5. Survey and Mapping Techniques
6. Identification of Human and Non-Human Forensic Evidence
7. The Collection of Botanical and Entomological Evidence
8. Distinguishing Antemortem, Perimortem, and Postmortem Forensic Events
9. Forensic Archaeology and Taphonomy
10. Forensic Taphonmy:
    a. Effects of Weathering, Fire, and Water on Forensic Evidence
    b. Effects of Animal and Plant Disturbance on Forensic Evidence
    c. Effects of Human Intervention on Forensic Evidence
11. Applications of Forensic Archaeology to Crime Scene Investigations: Case Studies
12. Ethics in Forensic Archaeology
13. Contemporary Issues in Forensic Archaeology

Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

A traditional lecture and discussion format will be used to present the majority of the content of this course.  These lectures and discussions will be supplemented by films, slides, out-of-class readings (especially case studies) as well as field exercises involving mock search, recovery, and excavation of forensic remains.

Goals and Objectives of the Course

From this course, students will be able to:

1. Understand major aspects of the field of Forensic Anthropology, including its goals, methods, and theoretical underpinning;
2. Understand basic methods for search, identification and recovery of human remains and other forensic evidence in various settings (e.g., above-ground or buried);
3. Apply basic techniques of data recording and recovery of evidence (e.g., remote sensing methods, sampling methods for soils, insects, etc.) to forensic crime scene investigations;
4. Identify and interpret forensically-significant evidence such as human remains;
5. Understand initial treatment and examination of this forensically-significant evidence;
6. Understand taphonomy (the laws of burial) and how it affects identification and recovery of forensic evidence.  This includes the effects of weathering, fire, water, animal, plant and animal disturbance on recognition and recovery of forensic remains;
7. Distinguish and reconstruct antemortem, perimortem, and postmortem forensic evidence;
8. Understand ethical and contemporary issues in forensic archaeology.

Assessment Measures

Students will be assessed through a combination of in-class examinations (including both an objective and essay component) as well as period in- and out-of-class writing assignments, activities, and field exercises.  In additional, a final research paper or project covering a specific aspect of forensic archaeology is required.  The topic must be discussed with and approved by the professor and may consist of a literature review or an experimental project.

Other Course Information

Review and Approval

September, 2007

December, 2009

April, 2011