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Body Farm Field Trip

In my day job, I am an architectural designer. My typical day is spent behind a computer screen…then there are days like today.

The new William Bass Anthropology building needs a slight renovation. I won’t go in to the details as they are the private business of the Anthropology department. However, I will briefly describe my experience in the learning lab. (If you are not familiar with Dr. Bass, I recommend his book “Death’s Acre”.)

Death's Acre  Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell Tales

Firstly, I am given booties made of the fabric/paper used in hospitals. I am not sure if they are to protect the lab from me or me from the lab.

Since it is a new facility most of the ‘residents’ haven’t been moved in. I am both glad and slightly disappointed. I have built up the trip in my mind. I expect to see bodies stashed under tables, stuffed in closets and hanging from the ceiling. In reality there are racks and racks of bone fragments. They are not ‘bone’ white as you might predict from the movies. They are brown. Nonthreatening in their earth-tone softness. I scan the trays and wonder how many will make one person. Oddly, the sight that holds me longest isn’t the human remains. It is the half set of oral dentures…

I finish my meeting, then go to lunch.


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