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11th November, 2015

Body Farms: Nauseating or Necessary?

Event Details

11th November, 2015
6.30pm - 8.30pm
Barts Pathology Museum, St Barts Hospital, West Smithfield, London, EC1A 7BE

People tend to be either repulsed or fascinated by the idea of dead bodies being left out in a field and allowed to rot. For some, this sounds like the ultimate indignity. For others, who appreciate the potential value of the corpses for forensic research, this presents an interesting alternative to burial or cremation. This talk will explore the use of specialist outdoor laboratories called ‘taphonomy facilities’, often referred to as ‘body farms’, for forensic research and criminal investigations. It will look at the myriad of different research that is being done and could be done on such facilities. It will also discuss some of the social, legal and ethical issues surrounding the establishment of taphonomy facilities and consider their future in the UK and abroad.

Dr Anna Williams is an experienced forensic anthropologist. She is currently Associate Professor in Forensic Anthropology at the University of Huddersfield. Her main area of research interest is human decomposition and taphonomy, with a particular emphasis on analysis of the chemicals released by cadavers throughout decomposition, and their detection by ‘cadaver dogs’. She is Director of the HuddersFIELD outdoor decomposition laboratory, which uses animal corpses to research different aspects of decomposition. She is one of the chief champions of the initiative to establish a Human Taphonomy Facility in the UK, along with some of her colleagues in the Burial Research Consortium.

You can find out more about her work at or follow her on Twitter @Bonegella.

QMUL website information available here


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