What is Forensic Archaeology?; Minoan Pottery; Mattock, Mimbres Site, New Mexico.

What is Forensic Archaeology?

Forensic Archaeology is using the concepts and practices from archaeology in modern crime scenes and legal investigations. Mainly used for burial sites and graves and in association with the police.

A forensic archaeologist is responsible in assisting to locate graves and burials, to carefully excavate, record and map the scene, to recover remains – sometimes with flesh still remaining- in a way that does not incriminate the evidence, to assist in processing the remains, to identify and recover any personal items, weapons or other evidence that will assist in the enquiry, and to record the processes in detail for later use in a Court of Law.

Forensic Remains of Animals © Wikimedia Commons
Forensic Remains of Animals
© Wikimedia Commons

Forensic recovery can assist the authorities with time of burial, how the grave was dug and by what sort of tools. Once the remains have been excavated, if there are only bones left, then DNA analysis can be undertaken from samples of bones or teeth. Isotope analysis can reveal where a person grew up but this is sometimes compromised by the soil in which the remains are buried.

Forensic Science Lab © Wikimedia Commons
Forensic Science Lab
© Wikimedia Commons

Forensic Archaeology is a fairly new addition to the work a person can do as an archaeologist, but it is very rewarding in assisting the police and helping to solve crime.



  •  Dupras. T.lL., Schultz. J. J., Wheeler. S. M., & Williams. L. J. 2012. Forensic Recovery of Human Remains. Oxon: Taylor & Francis.
  • Hunter. J., & Cox. M. 2010. Forensic Archaeology: Advances in Theory and Practice. Oxon; Routledge.
  • Forensic Remains of Animals – ©Anil1956 at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons.
  • Forensic Science Lab – © West Midlands Police from West Midlands, United Kingdom [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons



Archaeology Wow!! – Minoan Pottery

Minoan pottery dates from as early as the 18th century BC, and is found mainly on the Island of Crete in the Mediterranean, which was home to the Minoan Bronze Age civilization.

Early Minoan Pottery © Wikimedia Commons
Early Minoan Pottery
© Wikimedia Commons

There are three main categories to the pottery sequence

Early – This evolved out of the early neolithic pottery and includes Pyrgos/ Pattern Burnished Ware, Incised/Scared Ware, Agyios, Onouphrios Painted Ware, Koumasa and Fine Grey Ware, and the Em III Pottery.

Middle – Which saw pottery have specific functions, Pithoi, Kamares Ware, and studded new styles.

Late – Floral Style, Rhyta, Marione Style.

Minoan Clay Vase © Wikimedia Commons
Minoan Clay Vase
© Wikimedia Commons

Minoan/Mycenaean – Palace Style, Plain and Close Styles, the Middle East Style.

The Minoans were amazing craftspeople who produced some of the most striking pottery of the time. They loved their Marine and Floral styles and the other decorations are stunning. The pottery would have been in the Palace of Knossos and many styles are depicted within the frescos on the palace walls.

Bulls Head Vase © Wikimedia Commons
Bulls Head Vase
© Wikimedia Commons

You can view these wonderful works of art at many museums, including the British Museum and The Metropolitan Museum in New York.


  • Betancourt. P. B. 1985. The History of Minoan Pottery. Princetown, NJ: Princetown University Press.
  • Cline. E. H. 2012. The Oxford Handbook of the Bronze Age Aegean. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Early Minoan Pottery – ©By J. Ollé (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Bulls Head Vase – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bull%27s_head_vase.JPG.
  • Minoan Clay Vase – By User:Mountain (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons



Archaeological Site Guide – Mimbres, Mattock Site, New Mexico

The Mattock Site is a Mimes Cultural site located in New Mexico. It dates from around AD 200 and was built on top of earlier pithouses.

Excavating Floor of one of the Buildings ©www.archaeological.org
Excavating Floor of one of the Buildings

The site is a Pueblo village, with approximately 200 rooms, and one of many one of many pueblo villages located along the river in the area.

It was first excavated between 1929-1930 by Paul Nesbitt from the Logan Museum. He uncovered 61-90 rooms/pit structures and between 239-267 graves. The figures are not exact as some parts seemed to run into others and a definite conclusion could not be reached. Nesbitt found some house to be round, some D-shaped and other rectangular.

The site was excavated again between 1974-1977 by the Mimbres Foundation who uncovered 30 surface rooms and 91 burials, going over some of the work Nesbitt had undertaken in order to answer some questions that had arisen from the previous dig.

Altogether it was found that there were around 180 surface rooms to the site and 12 pit structures. Little is known about family and cultural life but there is very little evidence that the society was stratified – that is, some people holding more power and influence than others. It is beleived, though, that each family lived in a block of around 6-8 rooms. The burials showed little difference, only some with bowls, some without, but including copper bells.

Mimbres Pottery ©www.jqjacobs.net
Mimbres Pottery

The most distinctive cultural remains from this, and other Mimbres sites, it there amazing black and white painted pottery. It is well known throughout the area and the designs include animals, people and geometric designs – they really are beautiful!


  • LeBlanc. S. A. 1983. Mimbres Pottery: Ancient Art of the American Southwest : Essays. Easthampton, MA: Hudson Hills.
  • Powell-Mart. V. S., & Gilman. P. A. 2006. Mimbres Society. Arizona: University of Arizona Press.
  • Mimbres Cutural Heritage Site – http://www.mimbresculturesite.com.
  • Excavating Floor of one of the Buildings – ©www.archaeological.org



Great Books to Read…….



Great Web Pages to Look At…….

Activity – Word Search 26 December 2014

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