Throughout high school I spent a lot of time focusing on deciding a career path. It was obvious from the start that I would never go into teaching or nursing like the other girls in my graduating class. I wanted a career that would be both interesting and exciting while allowing me to have unique experiences. It was not long before I decided on forensic anthropology. I often receive bewildered looks followed by “what is that?” when I tell someone my chosen career path. Despite intentionally choosing a unique career it frustrates me to have to explain what forensic anthropology is over and over again. It is this frustration that lead me to decide to write my final paper on it. I am going to give an overview of forensic anthropology in order to explain the different aspects of that career as well as explore the topic for my own benefit.
What it is:
Simply put, forensic anthropology is the application of the science of physical or biological anthropology to the legal process, but in order to explain it in layman’s term further exploration is required. By itself anthropology is the study of humans. Practicing anthropologists study one, if not more, of the four subcategories of anthropology. These areas include cultural anthropology, the study of different cultures around the world, linguistic anthropology, the study of languages and how they shape a culture, archaeological anthropology, the study of artifacts left behind by past civilizations, and physical anthropology, the study of human remains.
Over the years physical anthropologist have developed and used methods to study bones in order to discover things about individuals who lived in the past. These method help them answer questions about the remains they are studying. Some questions physical anthropologists try to answer include: Was the individual male or female? How old were they at the time of their demise? How tall were they? All these questions allow them to learn as much as possible from each set of remains.