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Youth get closer look at world of forensics

Campers added more depth to their studies on archeology last week during the Advanced Archaeology Camp at Hickory Hill.


Dr. Rick Snow from The Georgia Bureau of Investigation in Atlanta gave a presentation on forensics and archaeology to campers at Hickory Hill's Archeology Camp last week.
Photo by Lynn Davidson

Rick Snow from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation taught the 11-17 year olds about forensics and archaeology.

Dr. Snow brought a PowerPoint presentation with photos of case sites and recovered evidence, discussed how he carries out his job and oddities in cases he has worked on.

Michelle Zupan, curator for Hickory Hill, said she invited Dr. Snow because forensic anthropology is entirely about archaeology.

"We were thrilled to get Dr. Snow. He's a busy man, and since there aren't many people in his profession, it was a unique opportunity," she said. "All of the recovery techniques used by Dr. Snow and others in that field are exactly the same techniques used by archaeologists the world over."

As Dr. Snow shared details of decomposing bodies and bones, he would sometimes pause and say, "if this is too graphic, please cut me off."

"An autopsy is just like being a brick layer," he said. "I just have to watch it and not think about it any longer. If I thought about it, I couldn't do my job."

The six students were not phased by the graphics. They said the presentation was better than watching the television show CSI, because it was realistic.

"It was good graphics, but needed more gore," James Shapiro said. "I thought the cool part was when he went down in the wells."

James referred to a case where Dr. Snow told about a body that had been hidden in a well for years. Dr. Snow also shared stories of trying to identify bodies in mass graves in Kosovo and Bosnia, as well as the Noble, Ga. crematory case in 2002.

"My heritage is Yugoslavian. ... And learning about the attempts to repatriate the murdered Muslims with their families was especially moving," Ms. Zupan said.

Two of the campers, Amanda Smith and April Gilliard, said the mass grave details were the most interesting part of the presentation to them.

"I was amazed with the mass graves. It was very interesting. All those bones, wow," Amanda said.

Some of Dr. Snow's stories made April laugh, because she said it wasn't what she expected. Dr. Snow enthusiastically told of his cases like an old soldier reliving war stories. He also shared the amount of education required for his job. Dr. Snow said the extra years it took him to get his degrees have been worth it because he is happy when he goes to work.

"I have always loved archaeology and science, and I have always had an interest in law enforcement," he told the campers. "I can't believe they pay me to do this. I love it."

The camp, Dig History!, was the third this summer for Hickory Hill. Dig History! is sponsored by the Watson-Brown Foundation. The final camp will be from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., July 24-28. The cost is $50 per camper per week. Call 706-595-7777 for details.

Web posted on Thursday, July 6, 2006

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