An Application of Geospatial Technology to the Collection and Analysis of Human Skeletal Remains

Author(s): Kate Hall; Samantha Mitchell; Patrick Lewis

Year: 2017


Documenting the spatial distribution of scattered and commingled skeletal elements is an important aspect of forensic anthropology and bioarchaeology. While existing methods of documentation may effectively represent scattered and commingled human skeletal remains, they do not facilitate further spatial analysis that may be useful in reconstructing taphonomic processes. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have recently been leveraged as a method of inventorying human remains, but their capacity for detailed spatial analysis is underutilized. In the Spring of 2016, graduate students from Texas Tech University explored GIS as a tool for the documentation and analysis of human skeletal remains. The remains of eight individuals–previously deposited at the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science facility within a 15m2 area over a four-year period–were mapped in situ with a Total Data Station. Geospatial analyses were then performed in ArcGIS to assess patterns in the spatial distribution of remains. This paper presents a comprehensive method for the efficient mapping of human remains using GIS and details potential uses of geospatial software in the reconstruction of taphonomic events. It further discusses the benefits and shortcomings of a geospatial method of documentation and analysis in forensic anthropology and bioarchaeology.

Cite this Record

An Application of Geospatial Technology to the Collection and Analysis of Human Skeletal Remains. Kate Hall, Samantha Mitchell, Patrick Lewis. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 428915)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -91.274; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -72.642; max lat: 36.386 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16346