Cataloging an Early American: A Question of Ancestry

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2019

Subject: LCSH

Dental Jurisprudence, Genetics, Human remains (Archaeology), Forensic Anthropology


Forensic Science and Technology


A SKELETON WAS UNCOVERED during construction of a chimney in the town of Guilford, Connecticut in 1952 by the late Stanley Barnes (Figure 1). Based on personal communication, the human remains were found in a fetal position on a bed of shells, and the land owner believed the skeleton to be a Native American. After examination, two main issues seemed to be at odds with this conclusion. The first was the condition of the teeth. Normally, Native Americans are known to have good dental hygiene due to a non-sugary diet (Smith, 1984), but this individual’s oral cavity was in poor condition with obvious cavities in multiple teeth. The second issue was no associated artifacts or clothing were recovered from the burial site. However, due to the friable condition of the bones it is believed that the skeleton was extremely old and potentially Native American or early Colonial, and personal effects may have deteriorated at the burial site even if originally present. In this study, it was confirmed that the skeleton was female, and was likely young (aged 12-25 years) because of the undeveloped wisdom teeth.


This article appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Evidence Technology Magazine.

The full-text of this article is available at

Publisher Citation

L. Reimer, S. Tardiff, J. Valoroso, R. Whiting, H. Miller Coyle. 2019. Cataloging an Early American: A Question of Ancestry. Evidence Technology Magazine. Spring issue