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CSI: Rome - a dive into ancient forensics

Redolegna

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Fascinating topic. Plenty of detective stories set in ancient, medieval and early modern times too.

And then you have the people with some knowledge of forensics or activities related to them who deploy a great deal of rhetoric and flourish on a sector they don't master at all. I'm thinking of Bertillon, father of fingerprinting in France, who improvised himself a handwriting expert in the Dreyfus affair and proved in very histrionic fashion that even though the writing did not match at all that of Dreyfus, this was exactly what Dreyfus's writing would look like if he was trying to counterfeit a different kind of writing.
 

Thande

Catch '22
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Fascinating topic. Plenty of detective stories set in ancient, medieval and early modern times too.

And then you have the people with some knowledge of forensics or activities related to them who deploy a great deal of rhetoric and flourish on a sector they don't master at all. I'm thinking of Bertillon, father of fingerprinting in France, who improvised himself a handwriting expert in the Dreyfus affair and proved in very histrionic fashion that even though the writing did not match at all that of Dreyfus, this was exactly what Dreyfus's writing would look like if he was trying to counterfeit a different kind of writing.
I'm sure I do not need to bring up R. Austin Freeman's crusade against courts accepting fingerprint evidence as proof of guilt in itself when it is easily faked.

Although Bertillon is frequently mentioned in English sources not as the father of fingerprinting, but for the Bertillon Measurements used to identify corpses.
 

Alex Richards

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And here I thought this was going to be about The Roman Mysteries (think: Famous Five, but set in Ancient Ostia).

This one's much more interesting. The whole bit with the palm prints being whole rather than a smear sounds like exactly the sort of thing that would be leading Barnaby or Morse to suspect that it wasn't quite so straightforward as it appeared.
 

Fenwick

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And here I thought this was going to be about The Roman Mysteries (think: Famous Five, but set in Ancient Ostia).

This one's much more interesting. The whole bit with the palm prints being whole rather than a smear sounds like exactly the sort of thing that would be leading Barnaby or Morse to suspect that it wasn't quite so straightforward as it appeared.
Whole and missing blood in the middle. Meaning whoever left the print was holding an object when blood got on their hand. Tell tale signs in blood is the basis of blood spatter and blood transfer forensics study.

To me the biggest deal is... the son was blind. And so many people seemed to be fine with "a blind man can kill someone."
 

Redolegna

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Although Bertillon is frequently mentioned in English sources not as the father of fingerprinting, but for the Bertillon Measurements used to identify corpses.
He wasn't father of fingerprinting, merely its biggest proponent in France, and he did his whole Bertillonage thing which indeed was measurements, but mostly for identifying people with a prior record. There is an Arsène Lupin story where Lupin patiently explains to Inspecteur Ganimard how he defeated the system which was taken by police and the public to be unbeatable.
 

Fenwick

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The importance of finger printing in France was not so much the prints but the system of criminal databases which France pioneered.
 
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