Friday, July 10, 2015

Forensic Friday: A Bit of History

Until popular television shows like CSI and NCIS hit the airwaves fifteen years ago, I would hazard a guess that most people didn’t give forensics much thought. However, thanks to these TV dramas, the public is now familiar with terms like accelerant, chain of custody, lividity, and toxicology. And unfortunately for many police departments, fans of these shows believe their viewership makes them experts in the topic. (But that’s another whole blog!)

So where did it all start? Has it only been recently that forensics and other associated sciences were used to solve crimes? I wondered that myself and set about to find the answers.

Dr. Elizabeth Murray, Forensic Anthropologist and Professor at Mount St. Joseph University is a
wealth of knowledge! Consider following her on Facebook. Her posts are fascinating and thought-provoking. She was gracious enough to send me a brief history of forensics, so I thought I’d share a few:
  • Julius Caesar’s attending physicians used forensics to determine that of the twenty three wounds on the body, only one proved to be fatal. That was in 44 BC!
  • In 250 BC Greek physicians determined that pulse rates increase on patients who are lying.
  • China published the first textbook of forensic medicine in 1247.
  • Two hundred years later, teeth were used to identify the remains of the Duke of Burgundy.
  • Experiments were conducted on dead British soldiers in 1839 to determine “time since death.”
  • In 1880 the first elimination of a suspect was done using fingerprints.
The list goes on from there, and every day new discoveries are made to amplify scientists’ knowledge in this field.

Are you a forensics fan?


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