Forensic Architecture

The great forensic anthropologist Clyde Snow called the process of identifying human remains osteobiography, or the biography of bones. The bones, constituting neither  part of the living human, nor simply an object, bear the imprint of a lived life. Snow explained that the skeleton contains “a brief but very useful and informative biography of an individual […] if you know how to read it.” The word “biography” tells us that what is of concern is not just the moment of death but the entire history of a life that has been fossilized into the morphology and texture of bones. In a recent interview Snow remarked: “When we see bones on the table they are dead. But in the living body, the bone is a very dynamic tissue, and it is very responsive to stresses, occupational stress for example, sports, injury, other activities. We take that osteobiography, we compare it with our missing person. In that way we can gradually come down to eliminate more and more deceased until we identified the person we wanted to find.”

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