Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Forensic Anthropology Definition:

The scientific study and analysis of human remains.

Related Terms: Cadaverine, Putrescine

Dr. Segen's disctionary suggests this definition of forensic anthropology:

"The scientific study of human remains, usually with the express purpose of identifying the remains of the deceased and the cause of death if unknown."

According to the Forensic Anthropology Center of the University of Tennessee:

 "The focus of forensic anthropology is the identification of human remains in a legal context."

In 2012, the American Board of Forensic Anthropology defined forensic anthropology as follows:

"The analysis of skeletal, badly decomposed, or otherwise unidentified human remains ... in both legal and humanitarian contexts. Forensic anthropologists apply standard scientific techniques developed in physical anthropology to analyze human remains, and to aid in the detection of crime.

"In addition to assisting in locating and recovering human skeletal remains, forensic anthropologists work to assess the age, sex, ancestry, stature, and unique features of a decedent from the skeleton.

"Forensic anthropologists frequently work in conjunction with forensic pathologists, odontologists, and homicide investigators to identify a decedent, document trauma to the skeleton, and/or estimate the postmortem interval."


  • American Board of Forensic Anthropology
  • Ousley, S. D. and Jantz, R.L., Forensic Anthropology Center brochure, #FORDISC 3.1 (1995), University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee.
  • Segen, J. C., The Dictionary of Modern Medicine (Carnforth, UK: Partenon Publishing Group, 1992) page 231.

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