Official opening of Forensic Anthropology Research Centre

Posted on April 15, 2010

The workshop is aimed at providing law enforcement and crime scene specialists with an overview of Forensic Anthropology. It has focussed mainly on the search techniques at crime scenes, the recovery of human remains and other evidence scattered on the ground as well as the excavation of graves.

The Centre, based in the Department of Anatomy, Medical School, Faculty of Health Sciences, was recently launched at the University of Pretoria and it will be able to produce research of an international standard on all aspects regarding the recovery and study of human skeletal remains. The centre’s expertise regarding its anthropological and archaeological services includes:

· Research: FARC undertakes global-standard research on all aspects of therecovery and study of human skeletal remains
· Heritage resource management consulting: FARC offers skills and competency in human skeletal analysis, cultural impact assessment, cultural resource mitigation (including graves).
· Assistance with criminal investigations: FARC assist with criminalinvestigations regarding skeletonised or decomposing human remains from a forensic context. The centre offers a comprehensive assistance to law enforcement and other agencies with the recovery, analysis and
identification of victims of crime or human rights abuses.
· Forensic anthropology: The skills available from FARC team of archaeologists and physical anthropologists include the interpretation of crime scenes involving clandestine graves and scattered remains, thedevelopment of osteobiographic profile from skeletal remains, and theexamination and interpretation of trauma.
· Education and Training: FARC contributes to the education and training of the private and formal sectors, graduate students and professionals in thefields of anthropology, archaeology and law enforcement.

Head of Forensic Anthropology Research Centre, Professor Maryna Steyn, said the centre is the first of its kind in the country which will be solely used for police work. The partly decomposed bodies and the skeletal remains will be cleaned and stored at the centre, and will be kept separate from the general archaeological remains. “The findings done on the remains will form part of the chain of evidence and will be useful in general police investigations”, said Prof Steyn.

FARC will also continue to work with the South African Heritage Resource Agancy (SAHRA) to recover remains of archaeological origin.

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