Print Version

Effective: Summer 2014

Grade Type: Letter Grade, the student may select Pass/No Pass
Not Repeatable.
FHGE: Non-GE Transferable: CSU/UC
4 hours lecture. (48 hours total per quarter)

Student Learning Outcomes -
  • Students will practice and apply understandings of forensic anthropology.
  • Students will learn how to critically analyze and interpret forensic anthropological data.
  • Students will apply anthropological principles for solving human problems on the local, regional and world scales.
Description -
Introduction to the application of anthropology as a science to the medical-legal process and its emphasis on the identification of human skeletal remains. Uses the scientific methodology to cover basic human osteology and odontology, assessment of age at time of death, sex, ancestry, trauma analysis, pathology, crime scene analysis, animal scavenging, and identification procedures. Focuses on the varying applications of science in the modern world in which forensic anthropology is utilized ranging from crime scene investigation, missing person identification, human rights, and humanitarian investigations.

Course Objectives -
The student will be able to:
  1. Understand the rise of anthropology as a science.
  2. Apply the scientific methodology to aspects of the forensic sciences.
  3. Make judgments regarding the validity of scientific evidence.
  4. Develop an understanding of the relationship between hypothesis, experiment, fact, theory and law.
  5. Demonstrate critical thinking, including evaluating ideas and contrasting opinions.
  6. Evaluate, use and communicate scientific data as it relates to forensic science.
  7. Apply the practice of thinking critically, including evaluating ideas and contrasting opinions.
  8. Distinguish human skeletal remains from animal skeletal remains;
  9. Identify the bones of the human body;
  10. Identify aspects of crime scene investigation imperative to analysis by forensic anthropologists and pathologists;
  11. Identify appropriate methods for preparation and reconstruction of remains in the laboratory.
  12. Determine the cause of death due to trauma by assessing different types of ante-, peri-, and postmortem changes to bone, including pathology, trauma, and natural anomalies.
  13. Determine the age, sex, stature, and handedness of human skeletal remains;
  14. Understand taphonomic processes and archaeological protocols
  15. Develop and understanding a theoretical basis for practice in a medicolegal and anthropological perspective.
Special Facilities and/or Equipment -

Course Content (Body of knowledge) -
  1. Introduction to forensic anthropology
    1. Historical background, theory, and methodology of anthropology and forensic sciences.
      1. Data gathering and analysis
      2. Laboratory equipment
      3. Scientific method
      4. History of science and anthropology
  2. Basics of human osteology and odontology
    1. Overview of the human skeleton
      1. Cranial and postcranial skeleton
      2. Bone anatomy and growth
      3. Human dentition
      4. Human and non-human skeletal distinctions
    2. Morphological differences
    3. State of preservation
  3. Recovery scene
    1. Locating remains
    2. Site preparation and mapping
    3. Preliminary excavation
    4. Marking remains
    5. Evidentiary chain of custody
    6. Preparation of remains
    7. Reconstruction
    8. Inventorying of remains
  4. Determining sex
    1. Pelvis
    2. Skull
    3. Various bones
    4. Subadults
  5. Determining age at death
    1. Adult
    2. Subadult
    3. Calculation of stature
  6. Death and trauma
    1. Cause of death
    2. Bone trauma basics
    3. Characteristics of force
      1. Direction of force
      2. Speed of force
      3. Focus of force
    4. Types of trauma
      1. Blunt force
      2. Sharp force
      3. Projectile
      4. Miscellaneous
    5. Timing of injury
      1. Antemortem
      2. Perimortem
      3. Postmortem
  7. Blunt trauma
    1. Types of instruments
    2. Effects of blunt instruments on skeleton
    3. Wound analysis
  8. Antemortem skeletal conditions
    1. Pathologies
    2. Anomalies
    3. Occupational stress markers
  9. Postmortem changes to bone (Lec)
    1. Dismemberments
      1. Basics of saws and saw damage
      2. Analysis of saw marks
    2. Animal scavenging
      1. Carnivores
      2. Rodents
    3. Fire damage
    4. Weathering
    5. Burial damage
    6. Water damage
    7. Miscellaneous damage
  10. Aspects of Individualization
    1. Facial Reproduction
    2. Assessing Handedness
    3. Estimating Body Weight
    4. Co-mingling
    5. Identification Using Antemortem Records
    6. Radiograpghy
    7. Photographic Superimposition
    8. Forensic Odontology
  11. Forensic Anthropology in Practice
    1. Ethnical Responsibilities
    2. Final Report Writing
    3. Expert Witness Testimony
    4. Humanitarian/Human Rights investigations
    5. Standardization/UN Protocols/Professional Associations
    6. Trends in Forensic Anthropology
Methods of Evaluation -
  1. Class discussion and participation.
  2. Written examinations.
  3. Research paper.
  4. Practicum examinations
  5. Oral reports.
Representative Text(s) -
Byers, Steven N., Introduction to Forensic Anthropology, Fourth Edition. Allyn & Bacon. 2010.
Koff, Clea., The Bone Woman: A Forensic Anthropologist's Search for Truth in the Mass Graves of Rwanda, Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo, Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2005.

Disciplines -
Method of Instruction -
  1. Lectures
  2. Reading of texts and peer reviewed articles
  3. Class discussion
  4. Short hands-on exercises
  5. Guest speakers
Lab Content -
Not applicable.
Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing and Outside of Class Assignments -
  1. Two map quizzes covering geography important to class.
  2. Final paper with focus on scientific investigation of human remains.
  3. Six homework assignments for critical thinking.
  4. Reading assignments average 40-50 pages per week.
  5. Exams