Forensic archaeology

Forensic Archaeology

Forensic archaeology

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Forensic archaeology, a forensic science, is the application of archaeological principles, techniques and methodologies in a legal context (predominately medico-legal).

Forensic archaeologists are employed by police and other agencies to help locate evidence at a crime scene using the skills normally used on archaeological sites to uncover evidence from the past. Forensic Archaeologists are employed to locate, excavate and record buried remains, the variety of such targets is large and each case is unique in its requirements (hence the need to use an experienced professional forensic archaeologist). However whilst the types of target that forensic archaeologists are asked to investigate are diverse the most common can be generally grouped as follows:

  • Buried small items or personal effects from a victim of crime, which may be used to corroborate a statement or contain other evidential value. This group includes evidence buried by a perpetrator of a crime to hide their involvement (e.g., weapons, money, mobile phones, etc.)


  • Potential gravesites, forensic archaeology attempts to locate and recover any human remains whilst also recording all evidence in association with the remains to reconstruct events that took place prior to the burial of the victim or victims. The grave may be sought as part of an investigation of an unsolved crime or may in some rare cases result from information gained from an individual already convicted of the crime in the absence of a grave.


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