The Graves of Research


Hold your breath, for we are taking a trip to the Forensic Anthropology Center of Tennessee University. Or more commonly known as the Body Farm. A 2.5-acre research facility where cadavers are placed outside in various crime scene scenarios. Some are in partial graves, put in the trunk of a car, or left in a bag above the ground.


The research is conducted for forensic science but is applied heavily on forensic anthropology to gain more information on decomposition of the cadaver and has the largest collection of contemporary skeletal remains in the United States. Where they can be examined for contemporary remains and traumas. The decades long research has proved fruitful as it helps explain and measure numerous factors about decomposition to help tell investigators time of death, traumas leading to death, and methods to possibly find identification of remains.

Bones on the table and in the boxes are part of the skeletal collection at Tennessee

To further the length of research after the cadavers are used in the body farm, they are then placed into the Bass Donated Skeletal Collection still located in Tennessee University. Now consisting of over one thousand seven hundred individuals. The collection consists of both sexes also with people from many different ages and backgrounds. The skeletal remains in collection have known age, sex, ancestry, cause of death, and body mass information. They are like the control to an experiment when forensic anthropologists examine unidentified remains. The skeletal remains are also used to for research purposes like the effects on the bones form obesity or diabetes.


The man that lead to this now widely known facility is Dr. William M. Bass. A forensic anthropologist that had many questions about decomposition and its many factors biologically and within the environment they were set in. And he wondered if it would help crime investigators. So, in 1971 he started his facility with his new position at the University of Tennessee. His Anthropology Research “Facility” was no more than a 16-square foot cage, originally used to keep pigs.  By 1987 the facility changed locations with more land and became the Forensic research center we mostly know today. The Body Farm was born and forensic anthropology was changed forever.

To peek your interest check out these: –  About decomposition and its relation to forensics science. – University of Tennessee’s website about there Forensic Anthropology Center.

One-on-one interview with Dr. Bass about the origins and upbringing of the Body Farm.


Interviews at the Body Farm and storage for the Bass Skeletal collection. Also mentions the CSI effect, look  it up. 😉





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s