Archaeological expertise at Cranfield Forensic Institute (CFI) spans the full range of the discipline, from archaeological fieldwork involving survey and excavation to laboratory-based materials science research on archaeological remains. We share a strong conviction that archaeological research is integrative, collaborative, and fundamentally important to the contemporary world, whether it involves the forensic excavation of buried remains, or providing deeper insight into the cultural dimensions of technology and innovation. Our unique archaeological capabilities stem from our institutional home within CFI, which provides strong links to related forensic disciplines, including anthropology, heritage crime investigation, and other defence and security themes.

Forensic archaeology

At Cranfield, academics are actively engaging in the forensic archaeological context. Researchers within CFI are applying archaeological techniques to the search and recovery in contemporary forensic contexts and undertaking the recovery of individuals from the past 100 years. CFI researchers have undertaken excavations both in the UK and internationally. These field projects with forensic aims include the missions of the Cranfield Recovery and Identification of Conflict Casualties (CRICC) team working in a vast number of countries, currently including Germany, Italy and Spain.

Archaeological excavations

CFI researchers have undertaken traditional archaeological investigations in both national and international contexts. For instance, those projects with more archaeologically-focused questions include our training excavations on a previously undiscovered Roman villa, fieldwork on 3000-year-old fortresses in the Caucasus, and the underwater archaeology of a Roman-Carthaginian naval battle.

Archaeological survey and spatial analysis

Whether mapping artefact distributions, shipwrecks, air crash sites, ancient settlement systems or crime scenes, CFI researchers employ a range of terrestrial and remote sensing survey technologies to address archaeological questions and solve forensic problems. For spatial analysis at the level of an individual site or artefact, 3D imaging and photogrammetry offer opportunities for more robust quantifiable spatial analysis of archaeological artifacts and materials of forensic importance. Expertise in geographic information systems (GIS) helps to integrate these diverse spatial datasets to address archaeological and forensic questions.

Archaeological science

CFI researchers specialise in the analysis of archaeological materials and remains, with particular interest in technologies of manufacture, the sourcing artifacts and the raw materials used to make them, and the reconstruction of 'life histories' of things – and people – in the broadest sense. Drawing on a wide range of compositional and (micro) structural analytical techniques, many of them non-destructive, CFI researchers use archaeological science to answer key questions about the human past. Major themes include the study of invention and innovation, analysis of trade and exchange, the organisation of economic systems, the identification of fakes and forgeries, materials analysis in support of art and archaeological conservation, and bioarchaeological research focusing on the analysis of skeletal remains.