Pseudo-clandestine grave identification and excavation laboratory project


  • Kristy Henson Fairmont State University
  • Alyssa Pettry Fairmont State University


mock burial, clandestine grave, forensic anthropology, hands-on, taphonomy, laboratory activity


When students envision crime scenes and forensic science, they immediately want to find a body and catch a murderer. This laboratory activity goes over how to prepare and execute a mock skeletal excavation that can be applied to most forensic science courses at the university or high school level. Throughout this multi-day, multi-part project, students completed a basic ground survey to locate a clandestine grave, secured a crime scene, excavated a burial, and analyzed a set of skeletal remains. This activity aims to give students hands-on experience using real forensic field and lab techniques. The materials and setup for this activity are usually readily available in any science lab. The project is relatively easy to set up and adjust for difficulty. Students who participated in this activity enjoyed the hands-on aspect of the project and felt more confident in their ability to find and excavate a clandestine grave.

Author Biography

Kristy Henson, Fairmont State University

Assistant Professor of Forensic Science at Fairmont State University






Activity or Laboratory Experiment: College Educators