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A student examines remains during a week-long field of study at the Body Farm at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, 2009. A body farm is a research facility where decomposition can be studied in a variety of settings. The aim is to gain a better understanding of the decomposition process, permitting the development of techniques for extracting information (such as the timing and circumstances of death) from human remains. Body farm research is particularly forensic anthropology and related disciplines, and has applications in the fields of law enforcement and forensic science. The original Body Farm is the University of Tennessee Anthropological Research Facility. Dr. William Bass became head of the university's anthropology department in 1971, and as official state forensic anthropologist he was frequently consulted in police cases involving decomposed human remains. Since no facilities existed that specifically studied decomposition, in 1981 he opened the department's first.
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