Year of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Anthropology (Forensic Anthropology Option)

Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Chair

Randall Skelton

Commitee Members

Ashley McKeown, Richard Bridges


ancestry, forensic, India, craniometric, South Asia


University of Montana


In forensic anthropology, development of a biological profile for law enforcement can be critical in identifying missing persons (Ross, et al., 2004; Spradley, et al., 2008 Cox, et al., 2009; Ousley, et al., 2009). A biological profile often consists of sex, age at death, stature, and ancestry, and various methods are available to aid the forensic anthropologist in determination of all aspects of an individual’s biological profile (Ross, et al., 2004; Spradley, et al., 2008 Cox, et al., 2009; Ousley, et al., 2009). One of the more difficult, yet necessary, aspects of a biological profile is estimation of ancestry, as it attempts to place socially constructed labels on individuals and groups that are not, biologically, very diverse (Cox, et al., 2009; Ousley, et al., 2009). Craniofacial measurements can be used to explore human variation and craniofacial patterns among individuals that can suggest genetic ancestral ties, and allow forensic anthropologists to effectively estimate ancestry (Jantz, 1973; Howells, 1995; Bamshad, 2001; Sparks and Jantz, 2003; Brace et al., 2006; Ricaut and Waelkens, 2008; Ousley, et al., 2009; Relethford 2009; Franklin et al., 2010; Holló et al., 2010). This study aims to explore/identify possible significant variables whereby Indian crania may be differentiated from other populations and test the hypothesis that peoples of India have a unique and homogeneous craniofacial morphology for purposes of ancestry estimation. Discriminant Function (DF) and Principal Components (PC) Analyses suggest cranial length and breadth measurements, specifically minimum cranial breadth (WCB), appear to be a significant source of variation between populations. The idea that peoples of India demonstrate a relatively unique and homogenous pattern of craniofacial morphology when compared to global patterns of variation (Stock et al., 2007) appears to be supported by this study. mtDNA and Y chromosome studies suggest independent evolution of peoples of continental India since first settlement with external sources of admixture being relatively recent, which also appears to be supported by this study. In a forensic context, the results of this study are promising for identification of Indian biological supply specimens exported from Kolkata prior to 1985.

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