Written in Bone: Exploring the science of death investigation

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BvwbUAhO_E[/youtube]Do you like the TV shows CSI, Criminal Minds or Bones? Then Anthropology 423 is for you!

Anthropology Professor Dale Hutchinson teaches students from all majors how to map and recover the elements of a crime scene in his class, Anthropology 423: “Written in Bone: CSI and the Science of Death Investigations from Skeletal Remains.” 

The class is taught in a three-week session during Maymester, so students attend class every day.  The course combines laboratory training, field projects, lectures, films, discussion and student presentations around the theme of the science of human skeletal analysis.

Hutchinson said, “This is a chance for them to get into a really, really different learning situation.”

In the class students not only learn how to map and recover elements of a crime scene, but also how to recognize trauma resulting from different metal weapons and how to distinguish a person’s age, sex and height from skeletal remains.

Grant Muir (anthropology/political science, ’15) likes the longer class meetings in a condensed summer session. “It helps to go from something like doing a PowerPoint and then the next hour visualizing the bones and holding the bones,” he said.

“To think that long after we’re gone our mark is still left on the bones that were a part of who we were in life is pretty interesting,” he said. 

For more information on Maymester, visit http://summer.unc.edu/courses/2013-maymester-courses/.

[ Text and video story by Beth Lawrence ’12 ]