Maricopa Community Colleges  ASM275   20056-99999 

Official Course Description: MCCCD Approval: 5-24-2005

FOR275  2005 Fall – 2008 Summer II

LEC  3.0 Credit(s)  3.0 Period(s)  3.0 Load  Acad

Introduction to Forensic Anthropology

Introduction to forensic anthropology. Survey of the role of forensic anthropologist, from the crime scene to the courtroom. Understand how a forensic anthropologist can determine life history of an individual. Contributions of forensic anthropology to crime scene and other legal investigations. How forensic anthropology is used to decipher historic cases, and how it is depicted in popular culture. Case studies involving criminal investigations, mass disaster incidents, and global human rights issues.

Prerequisites: None.

Cross-References: ASM275

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MCCCD Official Course Competencies:


FOR275  2005 Fall – 2008 Summer II

Introduction to Forensic Anthropology



Define terminology related to forensic anthropology. (I)


Identify ethical issues related to forensic anthropology. (I)


Describe the connection between anthropological method and theory and interpreting forensic data. (II, III, IV, V, VI)


Explain the basic objectives of a forensic anthropology investigation. (II, III, IV, V, VI)


Identify the stages of a forensic investigation. (II, III, IV, V, VI)


Describe how human osteology can help identify the life history of an individual (IV)


Explain how forensic anthropology can add to our knowledge of the past. (VI)


Describe how forensic knowledge can be used in special cases, such as mass disasters, recovery of war dead, human rights issues, and historical mysteries. (VII)

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MCCCD Official Course Outline:


FOR275  2005 Fall – 2008 Summer II

Introduction to Forensic Anthropology


I. Introduction to Forensic Anthropology

A. Anthropology and forensic science

1. Overview of sub-fields of anthropology

2. What do biological and cultural anthropology and archaeology contribute to forensic science?

B. Defining forensic anthropology

1. The role of forensic anthropologist and roles of other death scene investigators

2. Crime Scene Investigation (CSI), recovery protocol, murder mysteries, and forensic science: fact and fiction

C. Forensic anthropology in the United States

1. Necessary qualifications, training, employment

II. Where it Begins: The Recovery Scene

A. Is it human?

1. Human or animal: bear's paws and pig teeth?

2. Charred remains

B. Is it contemporary?

1. Recognizing cemetery remains and historical material

2. Loss of legal consequence

C. Did it happen here?

1. Where did death occur?

2. Search and recovery; documentation

3. Role of forensic archaeologist

E. How many individuals?

1. Commingled individuals

F. Chain of custody from recovery to lab

III. Life History of an Individual

A. Using bones and teeth to tell a story

1. Human skeleton

2. Teeth as a fossilized record

B. Ancestry

1. Medico-legal concept of race

C. What did they look like?

1. Determination of Sex

2. Stature

3. Age at Death

4. Facial reconstruction

D. Markers of occupation

1. Musculo-skeletal markings of habitual activity

2. Idiosyncratic wear on teeth

E. Positive Identification

1. DNA evidence

2. Dental records

V. What Happened?

A. Length of time since death

1. Stratigraphy

2. Taphonomy and post-mortem changes

3. Insects and other methods

B. Cause of death

1. Trauma and per-mortem injuries to the skeleton

2. Cremains and fire

3. Drowning, poisoning, and other indicators of death

C. Identify of perpetrator(s)

1. Can it be revealed by forensic information alone?

VI. In the Courtroom

A. Role of an expert witness

B. Ethical and legal considerations

VII. Special Cases in Forensic Anthropology

A. Mass disasters

1. Natural occurrences

2. Airplane crashes

3. Terrorist activities

B. Recovery of America's lost soldiers:(e.g. World War II and Korean conflict, Vietnam and Missing In Action)

C. Human rights issues and the disappeared

1. Forensic identification of genocide and other war crimes

2. Merging verbal and physical evidence

3. Contribution of forensic evidence (e.g., Argentina, Rwanda, Bosnia, Iraq)

D. Using forensic knowledge to uncover the ancient dead

1. Famous and infamous cases in history


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