Analysis of cultural heritage

When geoarchaeological methods are involved in forensic investigations, they are usually used to search for bodies that are generally buried underground and/or to recover human remains. Recently, these techniques have also become relevant for other purposes. The archaeological approach has become as important in numerous cadaverless forensic cases as it has been in normal criminal cases, particularly in Italy and the Middle East. If the general guidelines followed during crime scene investigations are the same, the differences in approach are relevant when it comes to forensic archaeology applied to crimes against cultural property. There are national authorities (such as the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage) and international authorities (such as UNESCO) that monitor the protection of cultural heritage and sometimes place legal restrictions on areas with high archaeological potential or at risk of damage. According to this, no one, including landowners, can carry out excavations in the land in question for any purpose, from the construction of artifacts to the planting of trees.

Forensic archaeology can be more effective in a criminal investigation if the forensic geoarchaeologist is provided with appropriate information about the history of the case and the dynamics of the crime, maximizing analysis and increasing the possibility of solving a case of violated cultural property.

The only limiting factor in the use of geosciences in various forensic contexts is often the difficulty of bringing together the various skills and exploiting them collectively during the phases of evaluation, research and acquisition of information on the crime scene (Di Maggio and Barone 2017). In these phases it is of primary importance to optimally select the scientific techniques to be used for the search for information and their contextualization within the crime scene. The lack of coherence of human resources and information caused by the lack of geoscientific experience and the lack of cohesion of the investigative team could cause irreversible damage to the entire forensic investigation. Forensic geoscience should be integrated into the whole process, including for crimes against cultural heritage.