54:AnthroNews: Forensic Archaeology Lecture

18 12 2008

On December 1, 2008 Dr. John Pryor gave a lecture entitled “Forensic Archaeology: CSI meets Indian Jones.” His talk centered around the work that he has done throughout his Archaeological career. He talked about the work done on the Skyrocket site near Sonoma in the foothills, which contains 10,000 years of prehistory. The work at this site provided a wonderful view into California’s past.

He went on to explain what he meant by “forensic archaeology.” It is the marriage of archaeological techniques and forensics. By combining the techniques of both sciences, evidence and remains are less likely to be destroyed or ruined. He provided an example of how police do not always do the best thing in terms of collecting remains. In one case a backhoe was brought in and took the top of the skull off of the remains. Dr. Pryor and associates were brought in and excavated the body “properly.” He went through various cases and times in which they had to create new methods to get the job done. He commented that often the low-tech ways are the most accurate or helpful.

He does a lot of work for California Native Americans, like those in Table Mountain. When he works on projects for non-forensic purposes he uses the things he has learned from doing the forensic cases. His work has been extensive, to say the least. On top of the contract work, Dr. Pryor also teaches the Fresno State archaeology class over the summer semester.

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