If you’re unable to peel yourself off of the sofa when the crime show “Bones” appears on FOX, you may be one of many individuals fascinated by forensic anthropology (or forensic archaeology, which this show also features). “Bones” is expected to start its ninth season this fall, a testament to the strong interest that exists for a scientific field that requires attention to detail and particular (and perhaps even peculiar!) knowledge of the human body. If you’re interested in the field, and, perhaps, even wanting to study or pursue a career, take a look at our list of forensic anthropology websites below. These sites may encourage you to search for a degree program, consider how you could turn acquired skills into a career, inspire you in the field in ways yet unimagined or just learn something new.
1. Forensic Anna:thropology: This site is maintained by Dr. Anna Williams who studied archeology and anthropology at Oxford University and will become a senior lecturer at the University of Huddersfield in the UK this fall. Of unique note are her varied interests: decomposition and taphonomy (the branch of anthropology that looks at decay), disaster victim identification and – yes baking. If you’re wondering where anthropology can take you other than just in the dirt, check out her page on being an expert in forensic anthropology on TV. She’s been on shows ranging from the Discovery Channel’s “Treasures Decoded: The Turin Shroud” to National Geographic Channel’s “Ultimate Tutankhamun.”
2. American Board of Forensic Anthropology: Students, graduates and working professionals can find a broad range of information available on this site. This includes reasons for entering the field, a listing of schools providing specific programs in forensic anthropology (as opposed to just anthropology), and steps to take to become ABFA-board certified. This Board was founded in 1977 specifically to provide a certifying credential to those working in the field. The Board also does note that to be a practicing forensic anthropologist a master’s or doctoral degree is typically needed. That can be six to 10 years of schooling, useful information for those considering a degree program in the field.
3. Forensic Anthropology Consulting Services, Inc.: There are 206 bones in the human body and every one of them tells a story as Dr. Frederick Snow, owner of this website, purports on his home page. Showcasing another way that graduates of anthropology programs could put their skills and knowledge to work, Snow has used his extensive training to identify human remains, testify as a legal expert and undertake body search and recovery. Snow received his PhD from the University of Tennessee and has also excavated mass graves in Bosnia and investigated a large-scale criminal scene at Tri-State Crematory in Georgia in which more than 300 bodies went un-cremated. He offers seminars to working professionals that go by names, including, but not limited to: “The Unidentified Dead,” “The First Cut is the Deepest” and the “CSI Effect: The Good, the Bad and the Reality.”
4. These Bones of Mine: Site owner David Mennear tends to aim his content toward human osteology and archeology, as noted on the home page of his website. His experience shows just how unique degree specializations can be when it comes to human bones – he received his master’s of science degree in the field of Human Osteology and Funereal Archeology from the University of Sheffield. Although he doesn’t specifically work in forensic anthropology, Mennear’s main, yet related interest, is in human remains found at archeological sites. He is able to bring a wide variety of voices to his site through a page featuring guest blogs, two of which recently focused on forensic anthropology as taught in the classroom and an introduction to commercial archeology.
5. Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team: Here’s another website showcasing how forensic anthropology (and archaeology) skills can be put to use. The Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, a not-for-profit, was founded in 1984 to look into the disappearance of more than 9,000 people during a 17-year period when Argentina was under military rule. The team has now expanded its services to include work in Africa, Asia, Latin America and elsewhere and, in fact, provides volunteer experiences and internships through its New York and Buenos Aires offices. Of note, this group is more likely to become involved with a case when it involves violations of human rights, development of a truth commission or through a request specifically made from an international judicial body. This just goes to show you that forensic anthropology may be an exciting, and even uber-conscious, career.
6. The Forensic Anthropology Center: Most people have heard of body farms, but this Center in Tennessee was founded in 1987 to provide students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville the opportunity to study firsthand the process of human body decomposition and to advance teaching and research in the field of forensic anthropology and related sciences. The FAC has been involved in skeletal analysis cases, but also does training for law enforcement personnel and other professionals. Some of these courses include: “Ourdoor Recovery,” “Field Methods in Forensic Anthropology,” and “Forensic Taphonomy.” Indeed, FAC is able to keep its doors open due to a financial endowment, but also because of individuals who agree to donate their bodies upon their own deaths. This site provides another intriguing look at forensic anthropology and how its study is undertaken.
Featured photo provided by polapix.
Barry is Managing Editor of ForensicsColleges.com, operated by educational web publisher Sechel Ventures Partners LLC, which he co-founded. Barry was previously VP for a financial software company, and currently sits on the board of a K-8 school and lives with his wife and daughters in the San Francisco Bay Area.