Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Anthropology (Forensic Anthropology Option)

Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Chair

Ashley H. McKeown

Commitee Members

Dave Dyer, Kelly Dixon


Burials, Decomposition, Forensic Anthropology, PMI, Sus Scrofa, Taphonomy, Time Since Death, Western Montana


University of Montana


Estimating time since death is difficult because of the multitude of factors that can alter postmortem change. Initial research conducted in western Montana indicates that decomposition does not follow the patterns found in other geographic locations. The purpose of this study is to better define how western Montana’s unique environmental factors affect the rate and pattern of decomposition of surface remains and buried remains. In May 2012 one mature pig (Sus scrofa) was placed on the surface and a second pig was buried. Throughout a nine-month period the following variables were monitored for the surface pig: rate and pattern of decomposition, climatic variables, internal temperature, and entomological activity. The following variables were monitored for the buried pig: ambient temperature, internal temperature, relative humidity, vegetation changes, pH levels, animal patterns, and insects. The results from this study indicate that regardless of whether a body is deposited on the surface or buried, mummification of external tissues occurs and is persistent for at least nine-months in the absence of animal scavenging. The ultimate result of this study contributes to building a baseline data set for documenting decomposition in western Montana’s cool and arid climate.



© Copyright 2013 Tory Nicole Huey