Establishing a Taphonomic Research Facility in the United Kingdom

Cross, Peter Andrew orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-1812-5664, Simmons, Tal Linda Ileen, Cunliffe, Rachel Elizabeth orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-1585-9112 and Chatfield, Lee Keith (2010) Establishing a Taphonomic Research Facility in the United Kingdom. Forensic Science Policy & Management: An International Journal, 1 (4). pp. 187-191. ISSN 1940-9044

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In May 2009, the University of Central Lancashire, UK, launched TRACES (Taphonomic Research in Anthropology—Centre for Experimental Study). This facility uses animal models in taphonomic research. The use of animal models facilitates wider studies of factors influencing decomposition than the low replicate numbers common to human cadaver studies. The establishment of dedicated facilities to carry out taphonomic research is long and complex. Whether the facility uses human cadavers, as in the United States, or animal models, as in the UK, the issues that arise can be common to both. These include commitment of resources, local community concerns, and planning and legal issues. However, the use of animal models also raises additional ethical and legislative concerns. These include environmental impact, animal welfare, biosecurity, and disposal activities. This article discusses the processes undertaken during the establishment of a taphonomic facility using animal models in the UK and demonstrates the level of commitment, enthusiasm, and perseverance required.

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