students in Jaime Ullinger’s Forensic
Anthropology class at Quinnipiac
have spent the spring semester analyzing human remains and other items of
forensic significance for the state of Connecticut.
The students will report their findings in
April to Dr. James Gill, the state’s chief medical examiner.
“The students have been working on a real
forensics case,” said Ullinger, assistant professor of anthropology in the College of Arts and
and co-director of the university’s Bioanthropology
Ullinger said the project dates back to
three years ago when Nicholas Bellantoni, Connecticut’s state archaeologist,
contacted the Bioanthropology Research Institute after police found a Santeria
pot and box containing human remains in an apartment in the Hartford area.
The remains, which include a human skull as
well as bones from two bodies, were stolen from a Hartford-area cemetery.
Ullinger said it is believed the remains were being used for rituals of
Santeria or Palo Mayombe – unrelated religious faiths that originated in
Ullinger said students began studying the
remains three years ago, but it wasn’t until the Spring 2014 semester that it
became a class project. The contents of the ceramic pot and box have been put
through X-ray and CT scan machines and have been excavated and logged.
In addition to the historic human remains,
the students discovered pieces of coconut, sticks, birds and feathers.
“We’re going to be working with botanists
and ornithologists at the Peabody Museum in New Haven to further identify those
remains,” Ullinger said. “We have students working in groups to determine
everything from whether bone damage is from normal decomposition or because
someone used it for some sort of ritual to what skeletal pieces might still be
out there that someone has stolen.”
Ullinger said the students’ final report,
which they hope will provide valuable information about religious rituals, will
be presented to Gill on April 24 at Quinnipiac.
Quinnipiac is a private, coeducational,
nonsectarian institution located 90 minutes north of New York City and two
hours from Boston. The university enrolls 6,500 full-time undergraduate and
2,500 graduate students in 58 undergraduate and more than 20 graduate programs
of study in its School
of Business and Engineering, School
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of Education, School
of Health Sciences, School
of Law, Frank
H. Netter MD School of Medicine, School
of Nursing and College
of Arts and Sciences. Quinnipiac consistently ranks among the top
regional universities in the North in U.S. News & World Report’s America’s
Best Colleges issue. The 2014 issue of U.S. News & World Report’s America’s
Best Colleges named Quinnipiac as the top up-and-coming school with master’s
programs in the Northern Region. Quinnipiac also is recognized in Princeton
Review’s “The Best 377 Colleges.” The Chronicle of Higher Education has named
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