Anthropology, Department of


First Advisor

William Belcher

Second Advisor

Karl Reinhard

Date of this Version



Smith, J. (2021). Recovery Method for Mites Discovered in Mummified Human Tissue [Unpublished Master's Thesis]. The University of Nebraska.


A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at The University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Anthropology, Under the Supervision of Professor Karl Reinhard and Professor William Belcher. Lincoln, Nebraska: April 19, 2021

Copyright © 2021 Jessica Smith


Much like other arthropods, mites have been discovered in a wide variety of forensic and archaeological contexts featuring mummified remains. Their accurate identification has assisted forensic scientists and archaeologists in determining environmental, depositional, and taphonomic conditions that surrounded the mummified remains after death. Consequently, their close association with cadavers has led some researchers to intermittently advocate for the inclusion of mites in archaeological site analyses and forensic case studies. However, despite their potential value, mites have been underutilized with a variety of reasons for the lack of inclusion of mites in archaeological and forensic analyses. Chief amongst these reasons is the lack of a systematic method for extracting mite specimens from recovered remains, the absence of methods available to archaeologists and forensic scientists that can aid in specimen identification, and the difficulty of specimen identification. The purpose of this thesis is to present a unified method for sampling, recovering, and mounting mite specimens that have been recovered from mummified human tissue. The goal is, when used together, these methods will significantly reduce barriers often encountered by archaeologists and forensic scientists seeking to incorporate mites into archaeological and forensic analyses. Although the scope of this research was limited to mummified human tissue, the hope is that the methods presented in this thesis will provide a way forward for forensic scientists and archaeologists interested in incorporating mites into their analyses.

Advisors: Karl Reinhard and William Belcher