Just Forensic Archaeology and Body Dump Sites

Just Forensic Archaeology and Body Dump Sites

Original Release Date: August 19, 2022

In episode three of our Case Studies: Part 1 mini season, Just Science sat down with Dr. Sharon Moses, an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Northern Arizona University, to discuss forensic archaeology and locating victims of “no-body” homicides.    

Forensic archaeologists can play a critical role in body recovery and search strategies for locating human remains because homicide offenders' choices in body disposal sites are influenced by various social and environmental factors. Forensic archaeologists use their traditional skillset in understanding environmental factors and animal scavenging behaviors to help streamline resources, narrow search fields, and calculate a point of origin after scattered remains are found. Listen along as Dr. Moses discusses the relationship between forensic anthropology and archaeology, reconstructing human and animal behaviors, and first-hand experiences recovering human remains.  

This episode of Just Science is funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (Award #: 15PNIJ-21-GK-02192-MUMU).

Some content in this podcast may be considered sensitive and may evoke emotional responses, or may not be appropriate for younger audiences. 

Listen to or download the episode here:

View or download the episode transcript here:

Episode Citation

McKay, J., & Moses, S. K. (2022, August 19). Just Science. Just Forensic Archaeology and Body Dump Sites. [Audio podcast episode]. The Forensic Technology Center of Excellence.

Guest Biography

Dr. Sharon K. Moses is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Northern Arizona University. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology/Archaeology from Cornell University where she was a National Science Foundation Fellow as well as the recipient of the Cornell Sage Full Ride Fellowship. Her dissertation work was based upon World Heritage site, Çatalhöyük, Turkey, and the ritual use of human remains placed under house floors. Her research was conducted under the direction of Professor Nerissa Russell (Cornell University) and Professor Ian Hodder (Stanford University). Dr. Moses is a registered professional archaeologist and specializes in forensic archaeology. She received post-doctoral training in forensic art and is a certified composite artist. Dr. Moses teaches both forensic archaeology and forensic art at Northern Arizona University where she also created and acts as Coordinator over the Social Science Forensic minor program. She volunteers her skills in forensic facial reconstructions in 2-D (drawings) or 3-D (clay over skull cast) for missing or unidentified persons cases and has consulted or participated with law enforcement as a forensic archaeologist and anthropologist in outdoor crime scene body recovery cases. Dr. Moses is a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the Southwestern Association for Forensic Scientists, and the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. Dr. Moses was a recipient of the Robert Gaffney Achievement Award in 2019 for “outstanding contribution to forensic science” from the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS). Moses serves as an AAFS Regional Representative who assesses applicants seeking to join the Academy. Dr. Moses’ current research interests are in geographic profiling combined with forensic archaeological skills to locate victims in “no-body” homicides. Moses has published articles regarding geographic profiling and is currently contributing to UK environmental profiler, David Canter’s latest book on the subject. Dr. Moses has been working on a facial reconstruction of a 50-year-old unsolved case in Manchester, UK of human remains left in a derelict building. Dr. Moses is in the final stages of completing a textbook on psychological anthropology/criminology and the development of forensic science and crime scene methodology under historical and cultural influences. 

The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this podcast episode are those of the presenter(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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