Forensic Archaeology

Recorded human remains

Forensic archaeology is a fast developing discipline within archaeology, designed to provide police forces with access to a range of specialist skills. These skills vary from simple bone identification and advice to the location of clandestine graves and their careful excavation and recording. The appropriate use of a forensic archaeologist during police investigations ensures that all necessary guidelines are followed and that professional standards are maintained.

Forensic Archaeology Services

  •     Bone identification
  •     Search and location
  •     Excavation
  •     Recovery
  •     Geophysical Survey
  •     Surveying and Illustration
  •     Expert Witness statements

Bone identification

Archaeology South-East offers a rapid identification service to police forces needing to know quickly whether or not any bone fragments are human or animal in origin. This can often be done from a simple photograph, or the bone(s) can be bought to the Archaeology South East offices. In most instances identification can be done by a quick visual assessment but can be accompanied by a scientific report or statement if necessary. It is also possible for us to facilitate C14 dating of the bone if required.

Search and Location

Our forensic team can assist with strategy design, setting up and implementation of searches for clandestine graves or other buried materials in locations ranging from small gardens to wider areas of the countryside, offering advice as to the appropriateness of various scientific search techniques and carrying out geophysical surveys if necessary. They are also experienced at working successfully alongside specialist groups such as police search teams, underwater search teams and police dog teams.

Crime Scene Work

Scene work may involve the locating, recording and recovery of human remains from a surface location or the careful excavation, recording and recovery of human remains from a clandestine grave. The involvement of the forensic archaeologist can help to ensure that the maximum amount of evidence and information can be gleaned from the scene and that the integrity of that evidence is maintained. Good teamwork at a crime scene is essential and we are experienced in working alongside other forensic specialists and specialist police teams.

Reporting

Once the search and or recovery are complete the forensic archaeologist must be able to prepare a professional report on their work methodology and findings, suitable for use as an expert witness statement in court. Our team are experienced in both the preparation of these reports giving evidence.

Our Expertise

Since the Archaeology South East Forensic Team was established they have been involved with an increasing variety of cases ranging from simple bone identifications to high profile murder investigations leading to giving Expert testimony in court. 

The Senior Forensic Archaeologist is Lucy Sibun BSc PgDip MIFA who has been working alongside police investigation teams around the UK for over 16 years. She is also an active member of the IfA Expert Panel for Forensic Archaeology. Support is provided by a team of qualified and experienced forensic archaeologists, osteologists, field archaeologists, surveyors, geophysicists and illustrators. The dedicated surveying team are able to provide spatial control and an accurate record of the scene; our illustrators then ensure that any field drawings are accurately and professionally reproduced.  

All work conducted complies with the IfA Standards for Forensic Archaeology.


Case Studies:

Since the Archaeology South East Forensic Team was established they have been involved with an increasing variety of cases ranging from simple bone identifications to high profile murder investigations leading to giving Expert testimony in court.

This work has included involvement in systematic searches for clandestine graves ranging from one week to 20 years in age. In a number of these cases the searches have been co-ordinated with other forensic search specialists including police search teams and GPR specialists and on one occasion led to the discovery of more than one body from a single site. The team have been involved in the surface recovery of human remains that have been in situ for a few months through to those that have been there over 10 years. Each case and consequently, each search strategy varies according to both the timescale and environment. Scene work occasionally requires the use of additional archaeological skills. One such case was the recovery of a burnt body from a bonfire mound that had been in use for four years. The scene work involved the systematic excavation of an extensive mound of burnt and un-burnt material and the subsequent sieving and washing of all the material recovered. This lead to the successful recovery of small fragments of burnt human bone.


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General Contact: Lucy Siburn

Page last modified on 11 aug 14 16:09