Major Developments in Forensic Science History

  • Jan 1, 700


    Chinese used fingerprints to establish identity of documents and clay sculptures.
  • Period: Jan 1, 700 to

    Major Developments in Forensic Science History

  • Sep 15, 1000

    Roman Courts

    Roman courts determined that bloody palm prints were used to frame a man in his brother's murder.
  • Sep 15, 1149

    Coroner Investigations

    King Richard of England introduced the idea of the coroner to investigate questionable death.
  • Sep 15, 1200


    A murder in China is solved when flies were attracted to invisible blood residue on a sword of a man in the community. Sung Tz'u was a chinese death investigator who wrote a book named "The Washing Away of Wrongs" where he explained the first murder solved by entomology.
  • Fidelus

    Fidelus was first to practice forensic medicine in Italy
  • First High-powered microscope*

    First High-powered microscope*
    Anton Van Leeuwenhoek constructed the first high-powered microscope. Leeuwenhoek was known to have made over 500 microscopes. In design, all Leeuwenhoek microscopes are known to have simply been powerful magnifying glasses put together.
  • Identification based on teeth

    Paul Revere identified the body of General Joseph Warren based on the false teeth he made for him.
  • Evidence incriminating John Toms

    John Toms convicted of murder on basis of torn edge of wad of paper in pistol, matching a piece of paper in his pocket.
  • Spectroscopy

    Gustav Kirchhoff and Robert Bunsen developed the science of Spectroscopy.
  • Crime scene photography

    Crime scene photography developed
  • Identification using body measurements

    Alphonse Bertillon developed a system to identify people using particular body measurements.
  • Fingerprint identification system*

    Fingerprint identification system*
    Edward Henry developed first classification system for fingerprint identification. Henry studied extensively how fingerprints could be used to identify criminals. The system he developed allowed fingerprints to be filed, searched, and traced against thousands of other fingerprints.
  • Human blood groups

    Karl Landsteiner identified human blood groups.
  • Locard's Principle*

    Locard's Principle*
    Edmond Locard formulated his famous principle, "Every contact leaves a trace."
    "It is impossible for a criminal to act, especially considering the intensity of a crime, without leaving traces of his presence." -Edmond Locard
    Locard got to test out his principle during many investigations. One particular one was of a Frenchwoman named Marie Latelle who had been found dead (1912).
  • Mass Spectrometer

    Francis Aston developed the mass spectrometer.
  • DNA double helix*

    DNA double helix*
    James Watson and Francis Crick discover the DNA double helix.
    "This structure has novel features which are of considerable biological interest." - James Watson and Francis Crick
    Watson and Crick used stick-and-ball models to test out their ideas on the possible structure of DNA, unlike other scientists who used experimental methods.
  • AFIS

    AFIS developed by FBI, fully automated in 1966.
  • First DNA tests developed

    Jeffreys developed and used first DNA tests to be applied to a criminal case.