The Body Farm

Essay by GeekCircusUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, May 2005

download word file, 3 pages 4.5

The University of Tennessee Forensic Anthropology Facility, otherwise known as the Body Farm, was created to analyze the decomposition process and see what takes place after death. The facility aids in teaching and exploring areas of death that were once unknown to forensic science. Without the body farm, many questions would still remain unanswered in the world of forensics.

Dr. William Bass founded the establishment in 1971 after realizing that there were not any other institutions investigating the science of body decomposition. This began almost eleven years before he founded the institute. Bass worked in Kansas primarily dealing with skeletal remains. Skeletal remains were found more often in Kansas because of the low population level; or in other words, it took longer for people to find deceased bodies. It wasn't until he relocated to Tennessee, a more densely populated area, that he began dealing with bodies that were less exposed to the elements.

Once given the chance to deal with more evidential remains, he saw the need for investigating the process of decomposition. He propositioned the dean of the University of Tennessee to the idea, and was initially granted an acre of land, that was formerly used as a pig farm, about 45 minutes outside the university. The institute has since grown to three acres of land and is now surrounded by razor-wire.

The body farm is home to about forty dead bodies all subjected to different theoretical physical environments that decomposition can take place. The cadavers arrive from two sources; unclaimed bodies left at the medical examiner's office and people who have chosen to donate themselves. Surprisingly, over 300 people have willed their bodies to the farm- in personal efforts to help further scientific advancements. The number of bodies donated increases every year, with surges of popularity created...