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The Body Farm: Birthplace of Modern Forensics

Updated on August 12, 2008

Anthropology Research Facility at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

"The Body Farm", as the Anthropology Research Facility at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is more commonly referred to, was established in 1980 by Dr. William Bass as a research facility for forensic anthropology. Modern forensics ~ and the current TV shows about crime labs such as Forensics Files, CSI, NCIS, and Bones ~ all have their foundations in the research done at The Body Farm.

What Exactly Is A "Body Farm"?

The Body Farm (Anthropology Research Facility of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville) is an outdoor facility used for researching the decomposition of human remains in varying environmental conditions. It provides crucial information to law enforcement investigating murders and provides a real life instruction to Forensics Anthropology students and researchers.

In other words, they stick a lot of dead bodies out in the woods and see what happens to them.

What Is Forensic Anthropology?

Forensic Anthropology is the science of physical anthropology and human osteology used to identify human remains and their manner of death, usually as part of a criminal investigation.

How Does The Body Farm Contribute To Science & Criminal Justice?

The Anthropology Research Facility in Knoxville, Tennessee, collects data about the decomposition of human remains in varying environmental situations. This information allows law enforcement to make informed judgements about the time and manner of a victim's death. The information gleaned from research at The Body Farm contributes greatly to the successful incarceration of murderers and is also used to prove innocence in wrongfully accused people.

So You Want To Donate Your Body To The Body Farm...

"There is no cost to you or your family for the donation of your body to the Department of Anthropology if you are in Tennessee and within 200 miles of Knoxville."

Why Is It Called "The Body Farm" Anyway?

Well, calling it The Body Farm is a lot more fun than trying to get out "Anthropology Research Facility". Although I've read on the web that the nickname was given to it by Patricia Cornwell when she wrote her book of the same name, I tend to believe those that say it was the Knoxville Police who first gave it the nickname.

In any case, "The Body Farm" is what it's always been called by Knoxville residents.

The Body Farm - A Kay Scarpetta Mystery

"The Body Farm", which heavily features the real Anthropology Research Facility in Knoxville, is the fifth Kay Scarpetta Mysteries novel by New York Times bestselling author Patricia Cornwell.

The Body Farm
The Body Farm

A mystery/thriller by Patricia Cornwell that has been likened to "Silence of The Lambs".

 

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

A memoir of Dr. William Bass, The Body Farm, and his career before and after the founding of The Body Farm. Graphic details and photos. Written by William Bass & Jon Jefferson.

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

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

by William Bass, Jon Jefferson

 
Death's Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab, The Body Farm, Where the Dead Do Tell Tales (includes 16 pages of B&W photos)
Death's Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab, The Body Farm, Where the Dead Do Tell Tales (includes 16 pages of B&W photos)

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

by William Bass, Jon Jefferson

 

"(At the time) there was nothing much in the literature, so I asked the dean if I could have a small piece of land to put bodies on. That was the beginning of what has been 29 years of trying to figure out what happens to people. I think all we've done is scratch the surface.”

Dr. William M. Bass

The Anthropology & Archaeology Job Search Engine

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    • Mr Criminology profile image

      Bigwas 4 years ago from Philippines

      i do not want to donate my body to the body farm but i am interested to know about it.

    • Mr Criminology profile image

      Bigwas 4 years ago from Philippines

      i do not want to donate my body to the body farm but i am interested to know about it.

    • JamesReed1 profile image

      JamesReed1 5 years ago

      Great lens!!!!!

    • KReneeC profile image

      KReneeC 5 years ago

      GREAT lens!!! I have a few books about the body farm and found it incredibly interesting!

    • profile image

      cmp2417 5 years ago

      Killer lens!! I use/rely on forensics in my profession and had no idea about this. Well written and very informative. I'm curious as to how many people donate their bodies to this. I will put a link to this on my site, wish I would've thought of this topic first. Well done!

      http://www.policehired.com/

      http://www.policehired.com/forensics-jobs/

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 5 years ago from Virginia

      This is an eye opener! Thanks for sharing an interesting lens about a real world facility that helps figure out real research problems.

    • studyaids profile image

      Steve Jones 5 years ago from Birmingham UK

      A very useful and interesting lens indeed.

    • foxfury profile image

      foxfury 6 years ago

      I've heard many great things over the years about The Body Farm. Thanks for the lens and for all the work you all do.

    • rebeccahiatt profile image

      rebeccahiatt 6 years ago

      very interesting lens, strange but interesting place.

    • LoKackl profile image

      LoKackl 7 years ago

      From a former K-ville resident, thanks for such an informational site. Rolling to smokin-in-the-smokies. Squid Angel Blessed!

    • profile image

      myFootpathAdvisor 7 years ago

      I like how this lens put a human face on the researches and scientists who analzye and study what must be a very difficult subject. Their contributions to our criminal justice system cannot be underestimated. Well done!

    • profile image

      leftybuick 8 years ago

      Great lens, JaZilla. Dell Lounge and Vice just posted some really cool Body Farm videos too: http://delllounge.com/blogs/bodyfarm/default.aspx

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 8 years ago

      Interesting. Never knew the history of forensics & I love Bones :)

    • profile image

      GrowWear 8 years ago

      Very interesting. First heard about the Body Farm from the Patricia Cornwell novel. Nice resource you have here!

    • Pierce This 2 profile image

      Pierce This 2 9 years ago

      Fascinating, I enjoyed the show about the body farm. 5 star lens. How to measure a belly button ring

    • DavidWebb1 profile image

      DavidWebb1 10 years ago

      Excellent lens. Thought you might like to know that I listened to a very interesting podcast featuring Dr. Bill Bass, the details of which are posted on my Forensic Science Blog

    • profile image

      brookehudson 10 years ago

      My favorite shows are Forensic Files, Body of Evidence, Dr. G., Cold Case Files, and more Forensic related shows. This is an awesome lens. Body Farm can surely help solve a crime. 5 stars

    • profile image

      1hugemall 10 years ago

      Terrific lens on the body farm. Lots of great information and very interesting. PLEASE keep up the GREAT work!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 10 years ago

      Excellent job! I've lensrolled you with my Patricia Cornwell lens.

    • M Schaut profile image

      Margaret Schaut 10 years ago from Detroit

      What a lens! Incredible work, JaZilla! Welcome to the tough topics group!

    • Shadox LM profile image

      Shadox LM 10 years ago

      Wow. Interesting lens... interesting... wow.

      Welcome to the Science Group