Forensic archaeologists examine crime scenes to identify and interpret evidence of human activity. This often relates to disturbances to the ground, such as pits used to conceal evidence (such as weapons or drugs), or graves. Any area of disturbance will represent numerous phases of human and natural activity and it is important to be able to identify each of them. We can then provide a chronological sequence for these different activities and attribute any recovered evidence to the correct phase.
The analysis of even a relatively ‘simple’ burial might reveal:
- The undamaged sides of the grave and preserved spade marks
- Different soils that might have transferred onto clothing, footwear, or vehicles
- Vegetation, roots, or pollen to help determine timeframes
- Evidence concealed beneath a ‘false base’
- Soil cast up during the digging of the grave and associated evidence
- The position of the body and evidence within the backfilled soil
- The presence of insects
- The character and sequence of backfill:
- how many layers are there?
- has the body been transferred from another location?
- was soil etc imported to cover the human remains?
Examples of when we can assist:
- A possible grave or buried weapons cache has been discovered
- A partially buried body has been discovered and it is not known whether this was the result of natural processes or deliberate concealment
- Bones have been discovered spread across an area and the extent of their dispersal and timescales for the deposition are not known
- Bones have been found during building work and it is not known whether these are modern or archaeological
- A witness states that they believe a body was buried in a certain area and the police cannot see any sign of it at ground level
- A suspicious-looking area of disturbed ground has been identified and needs to be assessed