There are some amazing super sleuths among this crowd! Your comments show your knowledge. I love to learn quirky pieces of crime history. It helps me to understand the trend of criminal investigations and how long it takes things to be perfected.
Enter our Super Sleuth Challenge. Each of you had sound reasoning for thinking your idea was the first forensic method to be used in an official manner. Here is the answer:
Which of the following forensic methods do you think was used first in an official manner?
A. Autopsies used to determine cause of death- The ancient Greeks called autopsies “eye-witnessings” or “seeing for oneself.” But we see that autopsies were used by the ancient world from Egyptians, to Romans, to Chinese as early as 3000 BCE.
B. Dental analysis and bite patterns used to identify a victim- The first case of dental analysis to identify a victim was in 1447, when a unidentifiable victim was recognized by one of the servants due to his master’s missing teeth. But using it to connect a victim to their killer didn’t occur until later. Dental analysis was used in the Salem Witch trials in 1692.
C. Fingerprinting used as evidence in a crime- The Qin Dynast(206 BC) in ancient China first used fingerprinting to solve crimes. They even had a manual for crime solving that showed how to use hand prints to identify criminals.
D. Footwear evidence used to identify the perpetrator- Although doctors have always been aware of the difference in size and shape of individuals and their feet, the first footwear evidence was used in a case in Scotland in 1786.
E. Handwriting Analysis- Aristotle and Confuscius from the ancient world thought there was a connection between a persons handwriting and their character. There was even a lecture about it at Bologna University in 1692. But as a study related to crime, graphology was not pursued until the 1870s.
To learn more about the history of forensic science in solving crimes click here.