History of Forensic Science

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The history of Forensic science i.e. applying "scientific" principles to legal questions has a long and intriguing history. Notable examples include: In 44BC following the assassination of Julius Caesar the attending physician proclaimed that of the 23 wounds found on the body ‘only one’ was fatal. In the 5th century Germanic and Slavic societies were believed to be the first to put down in statute that medical experts should be employed to determine cause of death. In 1247 the first textbook on forensic medicine is published in China which among others things documents the procedures to be followed when investigating a suspicious death. In medieval England pressure from the church halted the practice of hanging women thought to be…show more content…
Before Bertillon, suspects could only be identified through eyewitness accounts and unorganized files of photographs. Bertillon began his career as a records clerk in the Parisian police department. His obsessive love of order led him to reject the unsystematic methods used to identify suspects and motivated him to develop his own method, which combined systematic measurement and photography. In 1883, the Parisian police adopted his anthropometric system, called signaletics or bertillonage. Bertillon identified individuals by measurements of the head and body, shape formations of the ear, eyebrow, mouth, eye, etc., individual markings such as tattoos and scars, and personality characteristics. The measurements were made into a formula that referred to a single unique individual, and recorded onto cards which also bore a photographic frontal and profile portrait of the suspect (the "mug shot"). The cards were then systematically filed and cross-indexed, so they could be easily retrieved. In 1884, Bertillon used his method to identify 241 multiple offenders, and after this demonstration, bertillonage was adopted by police forces in Great Britain, Europe, and the Americas. But bertillonage was difficult to implement. The measuring tools needed frequent recalibration and maintenance; the process was labor intensive, requiring rigorously trained, highly
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