After excavating and analyzing scattered bone remains at a plowing field in Indiana, Sarah Kiley Schoff, owner and founder of Cold Case FACTS, a Massachusetts-based forensic and archaeology consulting company specializing in human remains, visited the Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology on Tuesday to present her research from the past summer.
For her research project in Indiana, Schoff placed six juvenile pigs that died of natural causes, four skeletonized and two mummified, on two separate fields. The pigs were arranged horizontally and the fields were then plowed with different intensity and orientation to test the different results.
“Bone samples were used to estimate the distribution, damage and loss caused by normal agricultural practices in Indiana during the experiment, with the ultimate goal of better informing investigators in their search of recovery efforts,” said Schoff in an interview with The Phillipian.
Schoff also described her career and passion for archaeology and forensics which she acquired from her dad, an amateur archaeologist, during her childhood growing up in Massachusetts.
“My dad gave me the opportunity to learn about archaeology by [taking] me out to sites when I was a kid. He would always talk to me and try to help me figure out what happened to the animal, where the animal was from, what kind of animal it was and how it died… these are questions that I often ask now when I am on the fields in my work,” said Schoff.
Now, as the owner and founder of Cold Case FACTS, in Boston, Mass., Schoff works to direct and decide the types of projects that her company will further investigate.
“It’s very new, to me, being in this role, so I am just figuring it out, being a small business owner… it’s only been about a year now,” said Schoff.
Schoff decided to speak on campus when she first came into contact with Andover as a member of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society. She was excited to share her experiences with her fellow chapter members.
“I like opportunities to meet and discuss my research. I was really interested to hear the chapter members’ experiences with plow zones and archaeology… also, the archaeological history at the Peabody Museum is very well-known, and it is an honor to be accepted as a lecturer,” said Schoff.
Victor Mastone, Director and Chief Archaeologist at the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources, said in an interview with The Phillipian, “I have been an archaeologist for 40 years, and I was really interested in looking at her plowing method. I was thinking more of the method having an effect on the artifact’s distribution than just natural forces.”
Schoff graduated from the University of Maine with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, and she is currently a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology at the University of Florida.