The Forensic Anthropology Research Centre (FARC) is an entity at the University of Pretoria that is involved in research, including contract research, that is either wholly defined academically or in consultation with a commissioning client. Due to the nature of the activities of the Forensic Anthropology Research Centre aspects thereof will fall within the ambit of the Social Responsibility or Business Streams, since its activities have high relevance to the society in which we live and since it will include aspects of service delivery, in some cases largely defined by the commissioning client. These activities will, however, be aimed at the generation of new knowledge, or the application of knowledge generated by the research activities of the Centre.
The Forensic Anthropology Research Centre aims to establish a centralised resource base with a single, well defined identity, for all aspects regarding human remains, whether it be forensic, heritage related or humanitarian in nature or origin (and as is often the case, overlapping these distinctions) in South Africa foremost, but also for the region, continent and globally. The main thrust of the Centre will, however, be forensic and pertaining to matters of violent crime and missing persons.
The Forensic Anthropology Research Centre recognises the sanctity of human remains and acknowledges the religious and cultural rights of descendents of all and any human remains it deals with. It supports the principles of restitution and repatriation and will fulfil the role of custodian on behalf of the national community for the remains it holds. The Forensic Anthropology Research Centre undertakes to treat all human remains with dignity and respect and to uphold and pursue the ethical and morally correct course of action in all cases.
The Forensic Anthropology Research Centre will
produce research of international standard on all aspects regarding the recovery and study of human skeletal remains
provide professional anthropological and archaeological services
contribute to the education and training of the private and formal sectors, graduate students, and professionals in the fields of anthropology, archaeology and law enforcement
Aims of research projects:
To develop new methods for skeletal identification in South Africans.
To adapt existing methods of skeletal identification for South African populations and the South African situation.
To apply new techniques, such as geometric morphometrics, to better understand human variation and sexual dimorphism.
To assess the applicability of current standards used to determine population affinity, both morphological and metric, in a South African sample.
To evaluate the similarity and differences of South African groups with North American and European populations using craniometry and traditional statistical tests.
To enhance our capacity of histological assessment of (a) age and (b) pathology on bone.
To study the changes in the human skeleton through time, as this would have an impact on our ability to identify skeletons (secular trends in the human body).
To improve methods used for skull-photo superimposition, photo identification and facial reconstruction in children.
To use the expertise so obtained in order to study skeletons from archaeological contexts in order to gain more information on past living conditions and lifestyles.
Current and recent post-graduate student projects
Facial reconstruction and population-specific tissue thickness data
Hyoid bone fracture patterns and causes of fractures
Testing of Accumulated Degree Days in predicting the post-mortem interval on a pig model (Forensic Anthropology Body Farm)
The study of patterns of DNA and protein degradation in a laboratory based model and naturally aged porcine (S scrofa) teeth.
Asessement of health status in 19th century Khoesan populations
Metabolic diseases on bone, using remains of Chinese mine workers as model
Human canines: test of Lamendin technique and sex determination
Secular trends in the human skeleton
Facial growth of South African children
Ante-mortem versus post-mortem burn pattern using a pig model
Testing the reliability and accuracy of skull-photo superimposition
Assessing bite force distribution using finite element analysis
Mandibular shape and tooth loss patterns
Sexual dimorphism in Khoesan populations
Assessment of health status of central African Iron Age populations