Teaching Resources - Bones and Forensic Anthropology

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Photo of remains of Jane found in Jamestown, VA

The skeletal remains of "Jane" surfaced sobering revelations about the harsh winter suffered by Jamestown settlers in 1609. Smithsonian photo.

STEM Subject: Bones and Forensic Anthropology 

National Middle School Standards Life Science, Physical ScienceSocial Studies 

Key Terms: forensic anthropology, archaeology, skeletal analysis, antemortem, perimortem, postmortem 

Key Concepts:  

  • Skeletal analysis for age, sex, ancestry, and health 
  • Process of identifying cause of death 
  • Human skeletal development over a lifespan
  • Culture of Jamestown and other colonies  
  • Technology used by forensic anthropologists 

Resource Types:


♠ Resource is aligned with the Forensic Mysteries- A Grizzly Discovery and Forensic Mysteries - Mystery at Yorktown Creek School Field Trip Programs. Learn more about all of our School Field Trip Programs here.

Webcast (video) and Podcast (audio) Shows 

  Webcast about forensic anthropology with Smithsonian anthropologist Kari Bruwelheide on Smithsonian Science How 

Printable Lessons

Click-through Activities Online activities that students can complete independently on classroom computers or at home

♠  The Secret in the Cellar National Museum of Natural History

Science Literacy Resources Reading selections to boost science literacy

Middle School Level

♠ Young or Old Written In Bone

High School Level 

Gifted Readers


♠  Forensic Anthropology Q?rius Topic Page


♠  Reading the Remains National Museum of Natural History (NMNH)


The Forensic Anthropology teaching resources support students in meeting the following middle school NGSS Performance Expectations:

MS-LS1 From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes

  • MS-LS1-1 Conduct an investigation to provide evidence that living things are made of cells; either one cell or many different numbers and types of cells.
  • MS-LS1-5 Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how environmental and genetic factors influence the growth of organisms. 

MS-PS1 Matter and its Interactions

  • MS-PS1-2 Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred. 


The Forensic Anthropology resources align with the following Social Studies standards listed below that integrate anthropology concepts with anthropology skills. 

Time, Continuity, and Change

  • Studying the past makes it possible for us to understand the human story across time. 
  • Knowledge and understanding of the past enable us to analyze the causes and consequences of events and developments, and to place these in the context of the institutions, values and beliefs of the periods in which they took place. 
  • Knowing how to read, reconstruct and interpret the past allows us to answer questions such as: How do we learn about the past? How can we evaluate the usefulness and degree of reliability of different historical sources?

People, Places, and Environments

  • The study of people, places, and environments enables us to understand the relationship between human populations and the physical world.  
  • During their studies, learners develop an understanding of spatial perspectives, and examine changes in the relationship between peoples, places and environments.