Ethics, professionalism, and qualifications in bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology

Author(s): Marin Pilloud; Nicholas Passalacqua

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "The Future of Bioarchaeology in Archaeology" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology both primarily deal with the analysis of human skeletal remains and employ similar methods for osteological analysis. However, over the past several decades, both subfields have become increasingly specialized with unique procedural and analytical goals. This divergence means that training in one subfield does not translate to competency in the other. Bioarchaeology requires a thorough understanding of both biocultural adaptation and archaeological theory, in addition to archaeological methods and data. Forensic anthropology on the other hand, requires extensive knowledge of laboratory procedures, accreditation, proper case documentation, legal standards (e.g., Daubert), expert witness testimony, and how to navigate within the medicolegal system.

We have argued elsewhere (Passalacqua and Pilloud 2018) that working outside one’s expertise is unprofessional and can extend to a breach of ethics. It is therefore important to identify qualifications of both subfields to ensure that practitioners are working as ethical professionals; yet currently, there is little guidance on what qualifies someone to practice bioarchaeology or forensic anthropology. This presentation will outline the current qualifications for forensic anthropology, and suggest future directions for both fields in order to establish a set of qualifications for the professional practice of each discipline.

Cite this Record

Ethics, professionalism, and qualifications in bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology. Marin Pilloud, Nicholas Passalacqua. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451154)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -168.574; min lat: 7.014 ; max long: -54.844; max lat: 74.683 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23203