Forensic Anthropology



Anthropologyis an empiricalsocial science mainly based on observations and verified by otherexperts and not on faith (Haviland et al, 2016). Anthropologistscreate a theory,a coherent statement-explaining framework for understanding. Thisexplanation is normally supported by verified and reliable datasource. The field of anthropology helps us to understand the conceptof evolutionwhat makes human adaptationunique compared to other animals on earth. There are differentbranches of anthropologysuch as linguisticanthropology,culturalanthropology,physicalanthropology,forensicanthropology,and archeologist.Cultural anthropology studies the culture of humans while linguisticanthropology studies human languages.Languageis a communication system that uses sounds, gestures, and marks putbased on particular rules (Haviland et al, 2016). Another field ofanthropology is urgentanthropologyor salvageanthropology,which is an ethnographic research that documents endangered culture.Humans are normally classified as hominoids, which is a group of apeswithout tales and broad-shouldered and include extinct apes as wellas humans. Humans are unique among the hominoids because they arewalking upright using the two hind limbs (bipedalism).However, the main objective of this paper is to discuss forensicanthropology.

Accordingto Steward, forensicanthropologyis a branch of anthropology that studies and analyses the fossilssuspected or thought to be that of human being. In addition toeliminating the non-human suspects, the process of identification isconducted to provide knowledge about the stature, race, age, sex, andother traits of the person (Haviland et al, 2016). This definition islimited and does not cover many aspects for modern professionalforensic anthropologists. The primary goal of this discipline was toclassify unknown individuals mainly for their skeletonized ordecomposed bodies. Thisaspect remains relevant currently however, for other parts of theworld, the requisite for such expertise is quite limited and thusforensic anthropologists have no otherwise but to expand their fieldor become outdated(Haviland et al, 2016).

Ascanstated that forensic anthropology is a multidisciplinary field thatcombines archeology,physicalanthropology,as well as other fields including forensicdentistry,pathology,and criminalistics. Archeology is the study of human cultures byrecovering as well as analyzing materials remains and environmentaldata. Physical anthropology focuses on human as biological organism.This outlook introduced the new concept that there is indeed a widerpicture that should be seen and hinted on inter-disciplinary—thenecessity to be a well-versed forensic anthropologist. In addition,there are more in-depth definitions including (forensic anthropologyas a specific discipline that deals with the life, death, as well asthe post-life account as reflected mainly in their fossilsorskeletal remains and the forensic and physical setting they emplaced(Haviland et al, 2016). Even though, it is a brilliant definition, itstill focuses mostly on the human fossils. A forensic anthropologistof the modern time deals with living people especially in estimatingage in instances of child pornography or asylum seekers as well asfacial identifications. Forensic anthropology is now a combination ofmany professional fields.Thiswas reflected in the following definition of anthropology, whichdefined forensic anthropology as the employment of physicalanthropology in the context of forensic. However, the definitionappears vague since it fails to explain what forensic anthropologistscan do. For that matter, some scholars recommended the definition toinclude individuation and medicolegal circumstances, using biologicaltraitsthat are restricted to both skeletonized, other remains as well asother things (Haviland et al, 2016). Such discipline can bedescribed as forensic anthropology. This new thought of modernanthropology need to included development and growth, and moleculargenetics.For example, age estimation from photographs, disturbed burials,radiographs as well from human traits (Haviland et al, 2016). Theuncertainty is evident in the wide inconsistency in people practicingforensic anthropology.Inthe continent of North America, forensic anthropology mainly comesfrom both anthropology and archeology setting. In Europe, however,most of the forensic anthropologists are medically qualified. Thisinclude forensicpathologistsor other medical professionals with vast knowledge and experience onskeletal analysis as well as practice forensic anthropology as partof their work. In Spain, forensic anthropology is often practiced asa forensic medicine sub-discipline. In the United Kingdom, forensicanthropology is in most cases associated with archeology (Haviland etal, 2016).

Inother parts of the continent such as Australia, most forensicanthropology experts are found in the departments of anatomy.The case is more the same in South Africa where forensic anthropologyexperts conduct their work under the department of anatomy. Itimplies that a clear guideline is yet to be created to defineaforensic anthropologist. This begs the questions about the minimumentry level, training requirements and the accreditation body.

TheUnited States of America is the only nation with an officialexamination system and forensic anthropology accreditation. The ABFAcertification board demands diplomats to frequently submit casereports to indicate that they are relevant and the reports that meetthe set standards. Other parts of the world are still behind scheduleregarding this fact. However, an increasing number of forensicanthropologists are gradually becoming aware of the fact andbeginning to organize and align themselves formally accredited aswell as more professional (Haviland et al, 2016).

InEurope, it is the training and experience but not a certain academicqualification that defines forensic anthropologist. In places such asLatin America, people practicing forensic anthropology have vastexperience, but a high level of academic qualification and trainingis not necessary (Haviland et al, 2016). The training in most casestakes place through a workshop series and is not uniform. Thecurrently formed Society in Europe aims toaddress most of these thorny issues using an improved certification,harmonization, standardized education, and research promotion. Inother regions, this may vary based on the region or countries, and itis upon certain laboratories to create quality control measures(Haviland et al, 2016).

Theforensic anthropology history goes back to the late nineteenthcentury similar to that of physical anthropology. It gained itsidentity just the other day when all forensic fields in the worldcombined more so under the United States Academy of forensicsciences.The most recognized anthropologists who spread the forensicanthropology were Stewart and Krogman who both made significantcontributions to this discipline as well as served in the federal andstate Investigation Bureau. In addition, these two great peopleanalyzed the field historically. Other scholars who also made a vastcontribution this discipline are Iscan and Helmer. In 1989, theyformed International Associations of Craniofacial Identification inKeiel, Germany. Since then, this meeting has been held in variousnations of the world. The most outstanding individual who contributedlargely to the research of forensic anthropology was late MiltonMarion Krogman. During the 1980s, through various anthropologicalorganizations including EthnologicalSciences,and International Union of the anthropological conference inVancouver, Canada, the field has stretched to include members fromvarious anthropological as well as forensic fields (Haviland et al,2016). Ethnologyandethnographyare the main components of cultural anthropology. Ethnography is anelaborate description of certain culture based on firsthandinteraction and observation. Ethnology is the study as well asanalysis of various cultures through historical or comparativeperspective with the help of ethnographic accounts as well ascreating anthropological theories that explain why there might bevariations or similarity across different groups.

Dueto globalization,worldwideinterconnection of societies,the domain of the forensic anthropology has stretched notably, and inaddition to including skeletonized remains, it includes otherelements. The area in the modern era, include (Haviland et al,2016):

  • Establishing biological profile (stature, ancestry, gender, age), therefore, offering a presumptive identification. It also includes dismembered, burnt and otherwise damaged remains. Gender is the cultural explanations as well as meaning associated with the biological difference between sexes.

  • Skull-photo superimposition and craniofacial approximation, which are basically unique methods used to help in the process of identification but cannot result in positive identification singly.

  • Creating the postmortem interval. Other scholars perceive this as forensic taphonomy.

  • Forensic taphonomy which consists of reconstructing the circumstances prior and after death as well as deposition and differentiating human’s activities and that of other animals such as primates, and the natural environment. Forensic Taphonomy involves the study of body changes after death such as environmental modification and decomposition.

  • Ascertaining that bones are of human thereby separating non-human bone from those of human.

  • Crimes scenes analysis which includes forensic archeology and as recover of other fossils.

  • Studying the skeleton, termed as forensic osteology. Forensic Archeology mainly involves controlled collection of human fossils.

Inconclusion, forensic anthropologists examine the remains of a human,especially in criminal investigations. Just like other field ofanthropology, forensic anthropology begins its research-usinghypothesis.This study of human has become an important element in crimedetection by working to analyze sex, ancestry, age, stature, as wellas a unique feature of a Skelton and this may including documentdistress to the skeleton as well as its postmortem interval. Skeletalremains are studied in forensic anthropology through the variousmethods including (Haviland et al, 2016):

  • Skeletal materials casting

  • Radiography methods

  • Scanning electron microscopy

  • Rehydration as well as preservation of decayed or mummified soft tissues

  • Using commercial preservatives to preserve skeletal materials

  • Thin-sectioning methods of bone histology

  • Scanning electron microscopy

  • Video or photo superimposition practices


Haviland,W. A., Walrath, D., McBride, B., &amp Prins, H. E. L. (2016).Anthropology:The human challenge.


  1. adaptation

  2. Anatomy

  3. Anthropology

  4. Archeology

  5. biological

  6. Bipedalism

  7. craniofacial approximation

  8. Cultural anthropology

  9. Empirical

  10. Ethnography

  11. Ethnology

  12. Evolution

  13. Forensic anthropology

  14. Forensic sciences

  15. Fossils

  16. Gender

  17. Globalization

  18. Hominoid

  19. Hypothesis

  20. Language

  21. Linguistic anthropology

  22. molecular genetics

  23. pathologists

  24. Physical anthropology

  25. Primates

  26. Savage anthropology

  27. society

  28. Theory

  29. Urgent anthropology

  30. genetics