Artifacts of Decomposition


Core Course
Credits: 3

This course will describe each of the main artifacts of decomposition that can be utilized to estimate the post mortem interval. Both biological and non-biological methods will be discussed, with a specific focus on the strengths and weaknesses of each method.

Course Objectives:

  • Explain what the postmortem interval is and how it can be calculated 
  • Identify and explain all the major artifacts of decomposition 
  • Understand the strengths and weaknesses of each PMI estimation method 
  • Distinguish between biological and non-biological PMI estimations 
  • Explain how and why bodies eventually end up in 1 of 3 conditions after death 


  • Module 1: Postmortem Interval Estimation – Strengths, Weaknesses, and Techniques 
  • Module 2: Algor Mortis and Other Temperature Based Methods 
  • Module 3: Rigor Mortis, Livor Mortis, and Other Muscle and Tissue Changes 
  • Module 4: Putrefaction and Autolysis 
  • Module 5: Other Biological Based Methods 
  • Module 6: Forensic Entomology and Botany 
  • Module 7: Skeletonizations, Saponification, and Mummification 
  • Module 8: Buried Bodies and Casper’s Dictum 

You may also be interested in: Artifacts of Decomposition Laboratory in-person, interactive elective course