About Forensic Anthropology

Traveling is wonderful and I’m so thankful to be able to do it, but I also truly enjoy research and archaeology work – the end goal is to find a career job that allows me to do both (which hopefully I’m on the way to).

During Undergraduate University, I taught coursework in Forensic Anthropology and Anatomy and did some very interesting research on medicinal healing, gender underrepresentation and osteology. As an aspiring Forensic Anthropologist and Bioarchaeologist, when I tell people my area of interest, it often is confused with Paleontology (people who study fossils and dinosaurs) or is referenced to ‘Bones’, a TV show that used to air on Fox.

Here’s what the Smithsonian defines Forensic Anthropology as:

Forensic anthropology is a special sub-field of physical anthropology (the study of human remains) that involves applying skeletal analysis and techniques in archaeology to solving criminal cases. When human remains or a suspected burial are found,  forensic anthropologists are called upon to gather information from the bones and their recovery context to determine who died, how they died, and how long ago they died.  Forensic anthropologists specialize in analyzing hard tissues such as bones. With their training in archaeology, they are also knowledgeable about excavating buried remains and meticulously recording the evidence.

It’s a long definition but it pretty much sums up the labor of the job.

It is digging in the dirt, it is lab work, but it’s not as glamorous as depicted. There’s a lot of sweat, sometimes blood, and often tears. This work is meaningful. It provides answers to people who don’t know where their loved ones are. It can hold bad people accountable. It buries or reburies people who have been displaced. This job is a special one and every opportunity I’ve had to become more and more acquainted with the work I’ve been grateful for.

Here is a group paper completed in Undergraduate University that provides a deeper look at what a Forensic Anthropologist does. We were given a container of bones and had to do our best to identify how many bodies there were, who they were and what happened to them.

In the Summer of 2017 I worked in Drawsko, Poland at a Mortuary Archaeology Field School, excavating buried remains of a cemetery to try and learn more about the people who used to live there. Roman pots were discovered, a grave robbery was unearthed and I left with more questions than when I first got there. Read more about that work here.

Most recently, for the past (nearly a full) year, I have worked with the Lummi Nation Indian Tribe of Washington State to recover, analyse and rehouse 70+ archaeological sites worth of artefacts for repatriation. Read more about that work here.

For now, traveling and language learning are the priorities before Graduate school begins in the fall, but if there are any questions or comments about this work, feel free to send me a message – this stuff is super interesting!