The preparation of human remains within the Department of Human Biology


The Mortuary is the unit within the Department of Human Biology which is responsible for the preparation of human remains for educational, research and forensic purposes, and the final maceration thereof on conclusion of each academic year.

The experienced team in the Mortuary is responsible for the embalming and preparation of human remains for student dissection, as well as the preparation of anatomical specimens that are used for teaching purposes and for use in specialised surgical workshops. Preparation includes techniques such as the bottling of anatomical specimens in perspex containers and plastination, serving as an important teaching resource. Plastination is a method of introducing silicon into the tissue, thus providing long term preservation. These methods of preparation allow human remains to be used by students and staff for teaching and learning activities within the Department.

Bone preparation by the team starts with full maceration of the soft tissues followed by further processes involved in soft tissue removal for final skeletonisation. The bones are de-fatted to prepare the remains for handling and long-term storage. In addition to preparation of human remains for teaching and research purposes in the Faculty of Health Sciences, this skill is highly valued and recognised by our Forensic Pathology Services in the Province which occasionally request our expertise in Forensic cases that require skeletonisation for further analysis. 

This specialised unit within the Department of Human Biology is an efficient service provider and supports various stakeholders both within and outside of the Department.

Body donation programme

Virtual HUB Cadaver Dedication Ceremony 2020