Forensic Anthropology
ANTH 236
MF  10:00-11:15 PM
Spring 2013
SUNY College at Geneseo

Instructor: Kristi J. Krumrine
Phone: 585.245.5043 (office)

585.281.3821 (cell)

                     Office hrs: MF 12:45-2:15 pm

                                 or by appointment


                      Teaching assistant: Sandy Bender


                      Office hrs: W 2:30-3:30



Course Description

Forensic anthropology is a branch of physical anthropology that examines human, usually skeletal, remains in the context of medicolegal issues. Forensic anthropologists analyze the scientific evidence of skeletal or badly decomposed remains in order to establish circumstances of death and identification of the decedent by estimating age, gender, ethnic affinity, stature, pathologic conditions, and traumatic injury. This course will be an introduction to human osteology, and present methods and techniques used in forensic anthropology to achieve its goals. The class will discuss case reports in forensic anthropology, different contexts in which remains are found, and methods of recovery. 


The course is taught from an interdisciplinary perspective, integrating concepts from anthropology, pathology, biology, geology, sociology, and criminal justice. Students will develop an understanding of how forensic anthropologists, osteologists, and paleopathologists are able to reconstruct events surrounding the life and death of individuals, both past and present. Students will develop analytical and critical thinking skills through laboratory analyses, and learn how multidisciplinary research is used in forensic anthropology to achieve its goals. Students will develop a greater understanding of biological and cultural human diversity through readings and discussions.


Student Learning Outcomes

Students upon successfully completing this course will be able to demonstrate the following by the end of the semester:


            1.  The ability to identify bones of the body, including the function and forensic significance of each bone.

2.  The ability to establish a biological profile from a human skeleton, including age, sex, ancestry, stature, pathology and trauma identifications.

3.  The ability to process a crime scene, including search and recovery methods, establishing time since death, and a working understanding of the ancillary investigators involved, including their duties and responsibilities.


Required Reading

Burns, Karen Ramey 2012. The Forensic Anthropology Training Manual. 3rd, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Steadman, Dawnie  2009. Hard Evidence: Case Studies in Forensic Anthropology, 2nd edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall


Class Requirements

There will be 3 exams (non-cumulative) in this course, each worth 20% of the final grade. The exams will cover lectures, readings, and films and will emphasize your conceptual grasp of the course material. All exams MUST be taken at the scheduled time. Due dates are outlined below.


There will be three (3) laboratory assignments for this course. The first lab (establishing the forensic context) will be completed in class and is worth 5% of the final grade. The second lab assignment involves the study of a human skeleton and is comprised of 4 parts: a skeletal/dental inventory, anthropometric analysis, establishment of a biological profile, and pathological/trauma analysis. This lab report is worth 15% of the final grade.  The third lab, a burial lab worth 5% of the final grade, will be completed outside of class. Labs must be attended and work completed during the allotted class time to have instructor help, but students may attend TA office hours for extra lab time. One letter grade will be deducted for each class period after the lab is due. Written portions of labs are graded on spelling, grammar, organization and content. Any writing or report you author should be considered scientific and technical, and if considered as a forensic report, would be admissible in a court of law. Ultimately, errors or omissions reflect upon the author and their credibility.


The final assignment will be in the form of a group presentation, worth 15% of the final grade. Presentations will be given sometime in April (see schedule); specific dates will be assigned once groups pick their topics. A detailed description of the presentation assignment will be handed out later.


Students will also complete a recovery exercise outside of class time (a Saturday around the end of the semester). The exercise will not actually be done on April 30th, due to time constraints, so we will not have class that day. The recovery exercise will comprise 20% of the final exam grade (20 points). Any student who is unable to attend the recovery exercise will be provided with an alternative assignment.


Reading assignments and posted PP presentations are meant to reinforce and compliment the class lectures, images, and discussions, and in no way replace them. Consequently, your regular class attendance is essential for understanding class topics. Coming to class and arriving to class on time are very important for your success in this course. I don’t penalize students for poor attendance (as per college policy), but I do reward students for good attendance by bumping up any borderline letter grades.


Academic Honesty Policy

Plagiarism, cheating and other forms of academic dishonesty will not be tolerated and will be dealt with on a case by case basis. Please refer to page 344 of the Undergraduate Bulletin regarding SUNY Geneseo policies.


Course Requirements and Important Dates

Exams #1                                           2/18                                                  100

            #2                                         4/1                                                    100

            #3                                         5/15                                                  100     

Forensic Context Lab                            2/8                                                     25

Forensic Lab Report                             4/8                                                      75       

Burial Lab                                          5/15                                                     25

Presentation                                      TBA                                                      75                                                                                          

** A detailed description of each lab will be handed out at a later date. The 3rd column above represents points for each assignment out of a total of 500 possible points for the course.


Weekly Schedule and Reading Assignments

The readings assigned below should be completed prior to class each week. Keep current with the reading assignments! Doing so makes class more interesting, helps prepare students for labs, and makes it easier to study for tests. PowerPoint presentations are available on mycourses. I recommend that students print out presentations (3 images to a page with notes lines) before class so as to eliminate the need for copying each slide during class.



Week 1            1/25                        Course Overview

Film: “The Talking Skull”


Week 2            1/28                        Intro to Forensic Anthropology                       

                                          Read: Burns Ch. 1; Steadman Ch. 1, 2

                        2/1                        Human Osteology: Bones of the Body

                                                Read: Burns Ch. 3-11 (be able to identify major bones)

                                                Lab: Bone boxes


Week 3            2/4                        Human Osteology: Bone Biology

                        Read: Burns Ch. 2; Steadman Ch. 19, 21

                        2/8                       Lab: Establishing the forensic context


Week 4        2/11                    Methods of Analysis               

                                                Read: Burns Ch. 13:189-201, Ch. 14; Steadman Ch. 3

                        2/15                        Lab: Skeletal/Dental inventory

                                             Read: Burns Ch 3-11


Week 5            2/18                        Exam #1

                        2/22                        Lab: Anthropometry

                                              Read: Burns Ch. 13-14


Week 6            2/25                        Pathology & Disease           

                                                 Read: Burns Ch. 13:211-214; Steadman Ch. 6

                        3/1                        Lab: Establishing a biological profile

    Read: Burns Ch. 13-14





Week 7            3/4                        Lab: Establishing a biological profile (cont’d)

                        3/8                        Skeletal Trauma

                                                  Read: Burns Ch. 13:202-210, 215; Steadman Ch. 15-17


Week 8            3/11                        Lab: Pathology and trauma

3/15                        Film: “Anastasia: Dead or Alive?”


Week 9            3/18-22            Spring Break—have fun!!


Week 10            3/25                        Open lab day?

                        3/29                        Reconstruction and Identification

    Read: Burns Ch. 13:216-221, Steadman Ch. 5, 7, 23


Week 11            4/1                       Exam #2

                         4/5 Film: “The Body Farm”


Week 12            4/8                        Guest Speaker: Bob Zerby, Chief Medical Investigator

                                                Read: Burns Ch. 12; Steadman Ch. 4, 7

                                                Forensic Lab Report due

                         4/12 Time Since Death

                                                Read: Burns Ch. 15: 255-261; Steadman Ch. 13-14


Week 13            4/15-19            Student Presentations           


Week 14            4/22-26            Student Presentations


Week 15            4/29                Student Presentations/Methods of Recovery                                                                       
                                              Read: Burns Ch. 15:239-254, 262, Ch.17:277-283;

                                              Steadman 9-11

                         5/3                        Prep for Recovery Exercise


Week 16            5/6                        Recovery Exercise


Week 17            5/15                        Exam #3, 8-11 am

Burial Labs due