Where did body farms come from?
I thought I'd use this post to tell you all about the beginnings of body farms - how on earth did someone come up with the idea?
The idea was first developed by anthropologist Dr. William M. Bass. In 1977 Dr Bass was called to investigate when the civil war grave of Confederate officer Lieutenant Colonel William Shy was discovered to have been disturbed. The grave had been dug up and a headless body was found sitting on top of the antique coffin. Dr Bass forst concluded that that due to the state of the remains the body had been there less than a year. The coffin below was empty, but Dr Bass knew that after 100 years in the damp Tennessee soil, the body, includig the bones, would be expected to completely break down.
Further investigation by Dr Bass, however, prooved conclusively that the remains were in fact those of Lt Col Shy.
Because of this miscalculation Dr Bass realised that there was a lack of knowledge in the forensic anthropological field on how to estimate time since death accurately. He ,ade the decision to do something about it, and in 1981 the University of Tennessee's Anthropology Research Facility was opened.
The facility prooved to be one of the most influential developments in forensic antropology. It has expanded over the years and can as of 2007 it can facilitate around 150 exposed bodies for research. It is world reknowned, which is why I am so eager to go there in November.
The most recent body farm, in contrast, was opened in 2016. The AFTER facility (Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research) was openedby the University of Technology in Sydney in order to investigate human decomposition in their particular environment. It is the first body farm to be situated outside the United States.
By visiting the first, as well the most recent body farms, I hope to be able to see body farms at both stages - the difficulties involved in starting out, as well as the day to day challenges of running such a facility. All of this should help the case for developing a facility here in the UK.
I've attached links for you if you want to find out more about anything I've been talking about here: