Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Anthropology (Forensic Anthropology Option)

Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Chair

Meradeth Snow

Commitee Members

James Tuttle, Randall Skelton


Last Chance Gulch, Helena, Mold


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Biological and Physical Anthropology


The University of Montana Forensic Case 12 (UMFC) is a human skeleton with an MNI of one that was recovered in August 1983 from an old schoolyard in Helena, Montana, by construction workers who were building a highway. The individual was given to the University of Montana Anthropology Department following the authority’s investigation. At the time, the University of Montana aided in the analysis of the skeletal remains and both departments had deemed the case as forensically insignificant and historic. The initial recoverers believed that the individual was a descendant of the Last Chance Gulch era and reflected Chinese ancestry, but UM’s 1983 professor Charline G. Smith’s forensic analyses reflect a Caucasian male.

Based on my suite of skeletal analyses, case 12 is consistent with the probable biological sex of male, approximately [23-39] years of age at death, and [5’3”-5’8”] in stature with a weight consistent of [130-172lbs]. The ancestral analyses used for identification are highly variable and unreliable but are consistent with someone of Native American or Guatemalan descent. Case 12 shows taphonomy consistent with a historic specimen with heavy soil staining. Pathological conditions present consist of alveolar resorption of dentition [#31] and tooth wear, also consistent with an adult, historic individual. The proximal shaft of the right humerus is abnormally wide, consistent with an osteochondromas, and porosity on the orbital roof is consistent with cribra orbitalia. There are no indications of antemortem or perimortem trauma to the remains, but there were several types of damage done to the skeleton postmortem. This includes depressions on the skull and heavy fragmentation and splintering of skeletal elements throughout. The skull is warped, and the right temporal bone is disarticulated, which can possibly be attributed to the introduction of water into the soil during burial.



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