Forensic anthropology is a subdiscipline concerned with the analysis of human skeletal remains in relation to criminal activity. It is rooted in archaeological, anthropological, and forensic practices and is implemented by law enforcement agencies and human rights activism in order to solve investigations.

The 1950s through the 1970s saw a heightened need for specialized professionals trained in forensics due to the high volume of casualties resulting from World War II, the Korean war, and the Vietnam war. This recovery work in concert with increasing recognition of the value of forensics for human rights and law enforcement, prompted the rapid growth of the multidisciplinary field. In addition, law enforcement agencies began to rely on physical anthropologists to help aid in their investigations during this time.

Today, forensic anthropology has grown to incorporate widely-ranging fields such as botany, odontology, and entomology. Yet, my thesis focuses on advances in taphonomy and genetic analysis in the arena of criminal investigations. Inherent to these fields are the data recovery processes rooted in archaeological techniques for the removal of the body from the field and identification in the laboratory. Drawing on victimology theory, I analyze evidence from the Green River Killer investigation and conclude that developments in taphonomic methods and DNA analysis led to its closure. All and all, I argue advancements in forensic taphonomy and DNA analysis have contributed substantially to effective reconstruction of evidence, prosecution of criminal offenders, and achieving justice for loved ones.


Navarro-Farr, Olivia




Archaeological Anthropology | Biological and Physical Anthropology | Criminology and Criminal Justice | Forensic Science and Technology | Other Anthropology


Archaeology, Anthropology, Forensic Sciences, Forensic Anthropology, Taphonomy, DNA Analysis, Victimology, Green River Killer

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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