Forensic Anthropology - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780124186712, 9780124172906

Forensic Anthropology

1st Edition

Current Methods and Practice

Authors: Angi Christensen Nicholas Passalacqua Eric Bartelink
eBook ISBN: 9780124172906
Hardcover ISBN: 9780124186712
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 22nd January 2014
Page Count: 464
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Forensic Anthropology:  Current Methods and Practice—winner of a 2015 Textbook Excellence Award (Texty) from The Text and Academic Authors Association—approaches forensic anthropology through an innovative style using current practices and real case studies drawn from the varied experiences, backgrounds, and practices of working forensic anthropologists. This text guides the reader through all aspects of human remains recovery and forensic anthropological analysis, presenting principles at a level that is appropriate for those new to the field, while at the same time incorporating evolutionary, biomechanical, and other theoretical foundations for the features and phenomena encountered in forensic anthropological casework. 

Attention is focused primarily on the most recent and scientifically valid applications commonly employed by working forensic anthropologists. Readers will therefore learn about innovative techniques in the discipline, and aspiring practitioners will be prepared by understanding the necessary background needed to work in the field today.  Instructors and students will find Forensic Anthropology: Current Methods and Practice comprehensive, practical, and relevant to the modern discipline of forensic anthropology.

Key Features

  • Winner of a 2015 Most Promising New Textbook Award from the Text and Academic Authors Association
  • Focuses on modern methods, recent advances in research and technology, and current challenges in the science of forensic anthropology
  • Addresses issues of international relevance such as the role of forensic anthropology in mass disaster response and human rights investigations
  • Includes chapter summaries, topicoriented case studies, keywords, and reflective questions to increase active student learning


Introductory and/or upper level courses in forensic anthropology. Also, reference for other courses involving human identification, skeletal biology or human osteology; practical guide for beginning practitioners.

Table of Contents



Author Biographies

Chapter 1. Introduction


1.1 Forensic anthropology

1.2 History of forensic anthropology

1.3 Forensic anthropology today

1.4 Careers in forensic anthropology

1.5 Layout of this book

1.6 Summary

1.7 Test yourself



Chapter 2. Human Osteology and Odontology


2.1 Principles of human osteology and odontology

2.2 Bone biology

2.3 Bone growth and development

2.4 Skeletal anatomy

2.5 Dentition

2.6 Summary

2.7 Test yourself



Chapter 3. Skeletal Examination and Documentation Methods


3.1 Examination methods

3.2 Skeletal remains as evidence

3.3 Case studies

3.4 Summary

3.5 Test yourself



Chapter 4. Medicolegal Significance


4.1 The medicolegal context

4.2 Skeletal versus non-skeletal material

4.3 Human versus non-human skeletal material

4.4 Contemporary versus non-contemporary human skeletal remains

4.5 Other considerations in medicolegal significance

4.6 Case study: human or non-human?

4.7 Summary

4.8 Test yourself



Chapter 5. Forensic Taphonomy


5.1 Principles of forensic taphonomy

5.2 Decomposition and postmortem soft tissue changes

5.3 Postmortem skeletal changes

5.4 Scavenging

5.5 Body movement and disarticulation patterns

5.6 Estimating time since death

5.7 Additional considerations in forensic taphonomy

5.8 Case study – forensic taphonomy

5.9 Summary

5.10 Test yourself



Chapter 6. Forensic Archaeology and Scene Processing Methods


6.1 Principles of forensic archaeology

6.2 Recovery scenes

6.3 Archaeological methods and theory

6.4 Detection methods

6.5 Recovery methods

6.6 Scene documentation

6.7 Evidence collection and packaging

6.8 Case study – burial recovery

6.9 Case study – fatal fire scene

6.10 Summary

6.11 Test yourself



Chapter 7. Processing and Preparing Remains


7.1 Principles of skeletal processing and preparation

7.2 Processing methods

7.3 Skeletal reconstruction

7.4 Commingling

7.5 Skeletal sampling

7.6 Skeletal preservation

7.7 Case study – processing

7.8 Summary

7.9 Test yourself



Chapter 8. Sex Estimation


8.1 Principles of sex estimation

8.2 Morphoscopic (non-metric) analysis

8.3 Metric analysis

8.4 Other considerations in sex estimation

8.5 Case study – sex estimation

8.6 Summary

8.7 Test yourself



Chapter 9. Ancestry Estimation


9.1 Principles of ancestry estimation

9.2 Morphoscopic (non-metric) analysis

9.3 Craniometric analysis

9.4 Postcranial methods

9.5 Other considerations in ancestry estimation

9.6 Case study – ancestry estimation

9.7 Summary

9.8 Test yourself



Chapter 10. Age Estimation


10.1 Principles of age estimation

10.2 Age categories

10.3 Juvenile (subadult) age estimation

10.4 Adult age estimation

10.5 Other considerations in age estimation

10.6 Case study: juvenile age estimation

10.7 Case study: adult age estimation

10.8 Summary

10.9 Test yourself



Chapter 11. Stature Estimation


11.1 Principles of stature estimation

11.2 Full skeleton methods

11.3 Regression methods

11.4 Other considerations in stature estimation

11.5 Case study – stature estimation

11.6 Summary

11.7 Test yourself



Chapter 12. Individual Skeletal Variation


12.1 Principles of skeletal variation

12.2 Normal skeletal variation

12.3 Anomalies

12.4 Pathological conditions

12.5 Repetitive activity

12.6 Case study – ankylosis

12.7 Case study – dental anomalies

12.8 Summary

12.9 Test yourself



Chapter 13. Analysis of Skeletal Trauma


13.1 Principles of trauma analysis

13.2 Forces, bone biomechanics, and fractures

13.3 Trauma timing

13.4 Trauma mechanism

13.5 Cause and manner of death

13.6 Case study – perimortem fall from a height

13.7 Case study – antemortem and perimortem pediatric trauma

13.8 Summary

13.9 Test yourself



Chapter 14. Personal Identification


14.1 Principles of personal identification

14.2 Narrowing the pool of potential matches

14.3 Identification comparisons

14.4 Quantitative approaches

14.5 DNA analysis

14.6 Facial approximation

14.7 Case study – radiographic comparison of foot

14.8 Case study – exclusion based on cranial radiographs

14.9 Summary

14.10 Test yourself



Chapter 15. Contemporary Issues in Forensic Anthropology


15.1 Forensic anthropology and the broader forensic community

15.2 Forensic anthropology in mass disaster response and disaster victim identification

15.3 Forensic anthropology in conflict and human rights investigations

15.4 Forensic anthropology and human migration routes

15.5 Forensic anthropology in the legal system

15.6 Error and uncertainty in forensic science and forensic anthropology

15.7 New research directions

15.8 Future of forensic anthropology

15.9 Case study – the state of Tennessee v. David William Cosgrif, III

15.10 Summary

15.11 Test yourself





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About the Author

Angi Christensen

Angi Christensen

Angi M. Christensen, PhD, D-ABFA

Angi M. Christensen is a Forensic Anthropologist with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia. Her primary responsibilities include conducting forensic anthropological casework and providing training for FBI agents and other law enforcement personnel, and she facilitated the development of the FBI’s Forensic Anthropology Program. She is also an Adjunct Professor in the Forensic Science Program at George Mason University.

Angi received her BA in Anthropology at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA (1997), and her MA and PhD in Anthropology at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, TN (2000 and 2003). Her research interests include methods of personal identification, trauma analysis, elemental analysis, and underwater taphonomy. She has published articles in the Journal of Forensic Sciences, the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Forensic Science International, the Journal of Anatomy, and Forensic Science Communications.

Angi is a board certified Diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, a Fellow in the Physical Anthropology Section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, and currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Scientific Working Group for Forensic Anthropology.

Affiliations and Expertise

FBI Laboratory, Quantico, VA, USA

Nicholas Passalacqua

Dr. Passalacqua is an Assistant Professor and the Forensic Anthropology Program Coordinator at Western Carolina University. Prior to arriving at WCU Dr. Passalacqua worked as a deploying forensic anthropologist with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency - Laboratory. Nicholas received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from Michigan State in 2012; and was certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology in 2016. Dr. Passalacqua is a co-founder and editor of the journal Forensic Anthropology. His research interests include age at death estimation, skeletal trauma analysis, and ethics. Dr. Passalacqua is a co-author of the award-winning textbook: Forensic Anthropology: Current Methods and Practice, and has numerous publications in such journals as: The Journal of Forensic Sciences, The International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, and The American Journal of Physical Anthropology, as well as chapters in such books as: Skeletal trauma analysis: Case studies in context, The analysis of burned human remains, Age estimation of the human skeleton, and A companion to forensic anthropology.

Affiliations and Expertise

Assistant Professor and the Forensic Anthropology Program Coordinator, Western Carolina University, USA

Eric Bartelink

Eric J. Bartelink is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Director of the Human Identification Laboratory at California State University, Chico. He received his B.S. in Anthropology at Central Michigan University (1995), his M.A. in Anthropology at California State University, Chico (2001), and his Ph.D. in Anthropology at Texas A&M University (2006). He became the 89th Diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Anthropology in 2012. Eric’s interests are in forensic anthropology and bioarchaeology, and he has conducted research focused on skeletal trauma, taphonomy, paleopathology, and stable isotope analysis. He has conducted an extensive research program focused on central California bioarchaeology, and also conducted work in American Samoa. In 2000, he assisted with the excavation of mass graves in Bosnia-Herzegovina through the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and also assisted in the identification of victims from the World Trade Center 9/11 disaster in 2002 and 2003. He has published articles in Journal of Forensic Sciences, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Journal of Archaeological Sciences, International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, Archaeometry, and California Archaeology.

Eric teaches courses in introductory physical anthropology, human osteology, forensic anthropology, bioarchaeology, forensic science, and statistics. He is Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, and a member of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, Society of American Archaeology, Paleopathology Association, and the Society for California Archaeology. He is current board member of the Scientific Working Group for Forensic Anthropology and the American Board of Forensic Anthropology.

Affiliations and Expertise

Department of Anthropology, California State University-Chico, USA


2015 Textbook Excellence Award – Most Promising New Textbook: Life Sciences, Text and Academic Authors Association

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