Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Chair

Randall Skelton

Commitee Members

David Strobel, William Prentiss


Anthropology, Forensic


University of Montana


The Anthropology Lab at the University of Montana is regularly consulted by law enforcement agencies throughout the state of Montana on cases suspected to involve skeletal human remains. In this paper, how specifically Forensic Anthropology contributes to these cases is examined. Cases submitted to the UM Lab for analysis between the years of 1971 and 2004 are followed up and the agencies involved are asked specific questions regarding each case. Agencies responded to questions regarding 97 of the UM’s 238 total cases. Results of this study show that of those cases containing contemporary human remains about 18% were identified after the UM performed their analysis, and about 60% had not been identified. With modern day forensic technology advancing at such a rapid rate, this paper aims to show that in Montana, Forensic Anthropology is a tool that has become less useful in its ability to assist in determining an unknown decedent’s identification, while being most useful in determining if a case in question is one that involves contemporary human remains to begin with.



© Copyright 2006 Ana M. Byrne