Copyright Sarah Inskip

Professor John Robb - Principal Investigator, social bioarchaeology

Mr Craig Cessford - Archaeological & historical researcher

Dr Jenna Dittmar - Palaeopathologist

Ms Sarah-Jane Harknett - Public Outreach Officer

Dr Ruoyun Hui - Ancient DNA, genetics

Dr Sarah Inskip - Social bioarchaeology and osteobiography

Dr Toomas Kivisild - Ancient DNA and genetics

Dr Piers Mitchell - Palaeopathology

Mr Bram Mulder - Phd student, Geometric morphometrics

Dr Tamsin O'Connell - Isotope analyses

Ms Alice Rose - Phd student, stable isotope analyses

Dr Christiana Scheib - Ancient DNA, genetics

Dr Jay Stock - Co Investigator, lead for geometric morphometrics

Name: Professor John Robb

Position: Principal Investigator, Social bioarchaeology

Biographical Information: John Robb has studied medieval English literature, European prehistory, and human skeletal studies at the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan. He has taught at Cambridge since 2001, and has carried out major projects on the history of the human body from the Palaeolithic through the present, on skeletal evidence of lifestyle and ritual, and on Italian archaeology. He is also interested in theories of art and material culture. As this suggests, he specialises in being a generalist.
•   BA, University of Chicago, medieval English literature, 1983
•   MA (1989) and PhD (1995), anthropological archaeology, University of Michigan
•   Lecturer, Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton (1996-2001)
•   Lecturer/ Senior Lecturer/ Reader/ Professor, Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge (2001 - present)
•   Fellow, Peterhouse (2015 - present)

Research Interests:
•   Archaeological and anthropological theory, particularly theories of agency, material culture, gender and the body, and scales of analysis/ long term change.
•   European prehistory, particularly the Neolithic and Bronze Age of the Central Mediterranean, with a focus upon cultural life, symbolism, and historic processes.
•   Prehistoric art throughout Europe, with a focus upon art as a specialised form of material culture.
•   Selected topics in human skeletal analysis, particularly signs of activity, funerary ritual and taphonomy, and extensions of the social biography after death.

Key Publications: See


Name: Mr Craig Cessford

Position: Archaeological and historical researcher

Biographical Information: Craig has worked in developer-funded and academic archaeology since graduating from Newcastle University in 1990 and has been based in Cambridge since 1997. As well as the After the Plague project he works for the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, directing and publishing major excavations. In Cambridge he ran excavations at the major Grand Arcade site, the St. John’s Hospital Cemetery that forms the core of the After the Plague project, and most recently at the Augustinian Friary.

Research Interests: Craig’s research interests principally relate to urbanism, with a focus on the medieval and more recent periods, although he has also worked at the Neolithic site of Catalhoyuk. He is particularly interested in how specifically archaeological manifestations of urbanism relate to social, economic, religious and political aspects of past societies.

Key Publications:
•   Cessford, C. 2015 The St. John’s Hospital Cemetery and Environs, Cambridge: Contextualising the Medieval Urban Dead, Archaeological Journal 172, 52–120.
•   Cessford, C. 2014 Assemblage biography and the life course: an archaeologicallymaterialised temporality of Richard and Sarah Hopkins, International Journal of Historical Archaeology 18, 555–90.
•   Cessford, C. 2012 Life in a “Cathedral of Consumption”: Corporate and Personal Material Culture Recovered from a Cellar at the Robert Sayle Department Store in Cambridge, England, ca. 1913–21, International Journal of Historical Archaeology 16, 784–808.
•   Cessford, C., Dickens, A., Dodwell, N., and Reynolds, A. 2008 Middle Anglo-Saxon Justice: the Chesterton Lane Corner execution cemetery and related sequence, Cambridge,Archaeological Journal 164, 197–226.


Name: Dr Jenna Dittmar

Position: Palaeopathologist

Biographical Information: After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2008, Jenna worked for several years as a commercial archaeologist in the United States before pursuing a MSc in Human Osteology and Palaeopathology at the University of Bradford in 2011. Her PhD, completed at the University of Cambridge (2016) focused on how the examination of tool marks on dissected individuals from hospital cemeteries can increase our understanding of medical history. A Research Associate, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research and a Junior Research Fellow, Darwin College

Research Interests: As a specialist in human osteology and paleopathology, Jenna utilises a multidisciplinary approach to questions about disease presence and treatment in past populations.

Key Publications:
•   Dittmar J,Berger E, Zhan X, Mao R, Wang H, Yeh HY (2019) Skeletal evidence of violent trauma from the Bronze Age Qijia Culture (2,300-1,500BCE), Gansu Provence, China. International Journal of Paleopathology.
•   Dittmar J, Mitchell PD (2018) Equality after death: Dissection of the female body in anatomical education during the 19th century. Bioarcheology International, Volume 2(4), 283-293. DOI: 10.5744/bi.2019.1002
•   Dittmar J,Mitchell PD (2016) From cradle to grave via the dissection room: The role of foetal and infant bodies in anatomical education from the late 1700s to early 1900s. Journal of Anatomy, Volume 229(6), 713-722. DOI: 10.1111/joa.12515
•   Dittmar J, Errickson D, Caffell A (2015) The comparison and application of silicone casting material for trauma analysis on well preserved archaeological skeletal remains. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, Volume 4, 559-564. doi: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2015.10.008
•   Dittmar J, Mitchell PD (2015) New criteria for identifying and differentiating human dissection and autopsy in archaeological assemblages. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, Volume 3, 73-79. doi:10.1016/j. jasrep.2015.05.019


Name: Ms Sarah-Jane Harknett

Position:Public Outreach Officer

Biographical Information:
Sarah-Jane has specialised in museum education and public engagement since 2004, teaching groups from preschool to postgraduate level. Through her work at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, she has worked extensively with a wide range of audiences and community groups, producing relevant and engaging events and activities.

Name: Dr Ruoyun Hui

Position: Human Genetics

Biographical Information: After a BSc in Biology (Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2013) and a MSc in Evolution, Ecology and Systematics (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, 2015), Ruoyun became interested in population genetics. Her PhD research at the Department of Genetics (2019) investigated population structure and archaic admixtures around the world using high-coverage modern genomes.

Research Interests: Ruoyun is interested in using population genetics to understand history.

Key Publications:

•   L. Skov, R. Hui, V. Shchur, A. Hobolth, A. Scally,M. H. Schierup, and R. Durbin (2018). Detecting archaic introgression using an unadmixed outgroup. PLoS Genet 14(9): e1007641.


Name: Dr Sarah Inskip

Position: Social bioarchaeology and osteobiography

Biographical Information:After a first degree in Forensic Science (Lincoln, 2004) Sarah became an osteoarchaeologist after studying for her MA at Southampton University in 2005. During her PhD research, Sarah worked as a part-time lecturer at Southampton University and as a freelance osteoarchaeologist. Her PhD research (2013), which explored emerging Iberian Islamic identity, compared skeletal signs of activity in early Medieval skeletons from Ecija, Spain. Between 2013 and 2016, Sarah worked as assistant professor in bioarchaeology at Leiden University.

Research Interests: Sarah’s research interests focus upon the connection between social roles and activity and the changing morphology of the skeleton. In addition to this, Sarah has an interest in ageing and sexing methodology, and is a member of the European Leprosy Project. Sarah is the osteoarchaeologist for the Dutch Italian Mission in Saqqara, Egypt, and for the Jebel Qurma project, Jordan.

Key Publications:

•   Inskip SA, Constantinescu M, Brinkman A, Hoogland ML and Sofaer J. 2018. Testing the Accuracy of Basal Occipital Measurements and their Discriminant Functions for Predicting Sex Using Four Documented Early Modern European Collections.The Journal of Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences10 (3): 675–683.
•   Inskip SA, Taylor GM, Anderson S, and Stewart G. 2017. Leprosy in Pre-Norman Suffolk: Biomolecular and Geochemical Analysis of the Woman from Hoxne. Journal of Medical Microbiology 66(11):1640-1649. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.000606
•   Inskip SA. 2016. Death and life in Al-Andalus: Approaches to Funerary Archaeology and Osteoarchaeology. In Carvajal JL (ed.). Al-Andalus in History and in Memory. Akkadia Press, pp 39-45.
•   Inskip SA, Taylor GM, Zakrzewski SR, Mays SA, Pike AWG, Llewellyn G, Williams CM, Lee O Y-C, Wu HHT, Minnikin DE, Besra GS, Stewart GR. 2015. Osteological, Biomolecular and Geochemical Examination of an Early Anglo-Saxon Case of Lepromatous Leprosy.PLoS One10 (5): e0124282.
•   Schuenemann VJ, Avanzi C, Seitz A, Krause-Kyora B, Herbig A, Benjak A, Inskip S Boldsen J,Taylor GM, Singh P, Mays S, Donoghue HD, Zakrzewski S,Nieselt K, Cole ST, Krause J. 2018. Genome wide spread study on European Leprosy.PloS Pathogens.


Name: Dr.Toomas Kivisild

Position: Ancient DNA and genetics

Biographical Information: After a first degree in Zoology (Tartu, 1995) and a change of topic from bones to human cellular power-plant DNA in his PhD and later shifts of focus from human to wolf genetics and back again, Toomas Kivisild became a DNA anthropologist. With a postdoctoral training funded by Oracle’s grant to study aging, he has, since then, while aging himself, studied signs of genetic and non-genetic activities in a range of populations from Campania to Iowa. He is Professor of genetics at KU Leuven, Belgiium.

Research Interests: Toomas’ research interests include human evolution and evolutionary population genetics, with a particular curiosity in questions relating global genetic population structure with evolutionary processes such as selection, drift, migrations and admixture.

Key Publications:
•   Jobling M, Hollox E, Hurles M, Kivisild, T, Tyler-Smith C (2014). Human Evolutionary Genetics, 2nd Edition, Garland Science, New York and London. 670 p.
•   Pagani L et al. (2016) Genomic analyses inform on migration events during the peopling of Eurasia. Nature 538(7624):238-242.
•   Inchley et al. (2016) Selective sweep on human amylase genes postdates the split with Neanderthals. Sci Rep 6:37198
•   Clemente et al. (2014) (2014) A Selective Sweep on a Deleterious Mutation in CPT1A in Arctic Populations. Am J Hum Genet. 95(5):584-589


Name: Dr. Piers Mitchell

Position: Palaeopathology

Biographical Information: Piers has degrees in medicine, nutrition, archaeology of disease, medical history, and higher education. He has been president of the British Association of Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (2012-2015) and the Paleopathology Association (2015-2017). Piers is associate editor for the International Journal of Paleopathology, the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, and PostMedieval: a Journal of Medieval Cultural Studies. He is also editor in chief of the book series Cambridge Texts in Human Bioarchaeology and Osteoarchaeology.

Research Interests: Piers’ research focuses on the study of ancient diseases (palaeopathology), using human skeletal remains, historical written sources, and latrine soils for ancient parasites. He has a particular interest in diseases of the medieval period, having undertaken key projects on the Crusades to the medieval Middle East, and the remains of King Richard III of England. Piers also runs one of the top ancient parasite labs in the world.

Key Publications:
•   Mitchell, P.D. Medicine in the Crusades: Warfare, Wounds and the Medieval Surgeon. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge 2004. ISBN 0-521-84455 x
•   Mitchell, P.D. (ed.) Anatomical Dissection in Enlightenment England and Beyond: Autopsy, Pathology and Display. Ashgate: Farnham 2012. ISBN 978-1-4094-1886-3, Reprinted by Routledge: Abingdon 2016.
•   Mitchell, P.D., Buckberry J. (eds) Proceedings of the 12th Annual Conference of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology. Archaeopress: Oxford 2012. ISBN 978-1-4073-0970-5
•   Mitchell, P.D. (ed.) Sanitation, Latrines and Intestinal Parasites in Past Populations. Ashgate: Farnham, 2015. ISBN 978-1-4724-4907-8 Reprinted by Routledge: Abingdon 2015.
•   Mitchell, P.D., Brickley, M. (eds) Update to the Guidelines to the Standards for Recording Human Remains. Chartered Institute for Archaeologists/British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology: Reading, for publication soon.
•   Mitchell, P.D. and Le Bailly, M. Parasites in Past Civilisations and their Impact Upon Health. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, for publication soon. ISBN 978-0-5117-3238-6.


Name: Bram Mulder

Position: Phd student, Geometric morphometrics

Biographical Information: After having finished his MA in ancient history at Utrecht University, Bram continued his studies at Leiden University, where he got his MSc in human osteology. He graduated on a study of the microstructure of entheses.

Research Interests: Bram’s main interests are bone biomechanics and the processes involved in bone remodelling. For his PhD he will be studying bone geometry, assessing how the plague affected people’s daily lives.


Name: Dr. Tamsin O’Connell

Position: Isotope analyses

Biographical Information: Tamsin O'Connell started academic life as a chemist at the University of Oxford. The lure of applied science led her to archaeology, working with Prof Robert Hedges at the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art in Oxford, firstly for her undergraduate dissertation followed by a SERC/NERC-funded DPhil. She had a Wellcome Trust Post-doctoral Fellowship, then two post-doctoral positions at the RLAHA. She joined the Department in Cambridge in 2004, with a Wellcome Trust University Award, to set up an isotope laboratory, now called the Dorothy Garrod Laboratory.

Research Interests: Tamsin’s research traces signals of diet and climate in human and animal tissues, using isotopic analysis. As well as application to archaeological, ecological and epidemiological case studies, her work focuses on developing our understanding of the underlying principles, so as to improve the resolution of interpretations and conclusions that we can draw from isotopic analyses.

Key Publications:
•   O'Connell T.C., Kneale C.J., Tasevska N. and Kuhnle G.G.C. (2012). The diet-body offset in human nitrogen isotopic values: A controlled dietary study. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 149(3), 426-434. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22140
•   Lightfoot, E. and O’Connell, T.C. (2016) On The Use of Biomineral Oxygen Isotope Data to Identify Human Migrants in the Archaeological Record: Intra-Sample Variation, Statistical Methods and Geographical Considerations. Plos One, 11, e0153850. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0153850
•   Hedges REM, Clement JG, Thomas CDL and TC O’Connell (2007). Collagen turnover in the adult femoral mid-shaft: modeled from anthropogenic radiocarbon tracer measurements. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 133: 808-816. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.20598


Name: Alice Rose

Position: Phd student, stable isotope analyses

Biographical Information: After completing a degree in Archaeology (BSc) at the University of Reading, and a Masters degree in Palaeopathology (MSc) at Durham University, Alice spent four years working as a commercial archaeologist and osteologist before starting a PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2016. Her PhD research utilises isotopic analysis to help understand diet and mobility in Medieval Cambridge, focussing on the Medieval hospital of St John.

Research Interests:
Isotopic analysis, Palaeodiet, Mobility and Migration, Osteoarchaeology, Palaeopathology, Medieval Archaeology.


Name: Dr Christiana Scheib

Position: Ancient DNA, genetics

Biographical Information: Christiana completed her MPhil and PhD at the University of Cambridge in Archaeogenetics, with a research focus on the peopling of the Americas. After beginning her post-doctoral career with the After the Plague project generating the ancient DNA data, she was appointed a senior researcher and head of the new ancient DNA laboratory at the University of Tartu, Institute of Genomics, Tartu, Estonia where she continues to generate aDNA data for the ATP as well as a number of other projects. Her research interests include the complex interactions between diet, social factors, hereditary variation and pathogens such as Y. pestis and M. tuberculosis as well as opportunistic pathogens such as S.pyogenes.

Key Publications:

•   Scheib, CL et al. (2018). Ancient human parallel lineages within North America contributed to a coastal expansion. Science 360(6392), pp. 1024-1027. Doi: 10.1126/science.aar6851.
•   Ancient Yersinia pestis genomes from across Western Europe reveal early diversification during the First Pandemic (541–750)
•   Haber M, Doumet-Serhal C, Scheib C, et al. Continuity and Admixture in the Last Five Millennia of Levantine History from Ancient Canaanite and Present-Day Lebanese Genome Sequences. Am J Hum Genet. 2017 Aug 3;101(2):274-282. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2017.06.013.
•   Saag L, Varul L, Scheib CL, et al. Extensive Farming in Estonia Started through a Sex-Biased Migration from the Steppe. Curr Biol. 2017 Jul 24;27(14):2185-2193.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.06.022.
•   Pagani L, Lawson DJ, Jagoda E, Mörseburg A, Eriksson A, Mitt M, Clemente F, Hudjashov G, DeGiorgio M, Saag L, Wall JD, Cardona A, Mägi R, Wilson Sayres MA, Kaewert S, Inchley C, Scheib CL, et al. Genomic analyses inform on migration events during the peopling of Eurasia. Nature. 2016 Oct 13;538(7624):238-242. doi: 10.1038/nature19792.


Name: Dr Jay Stock

Position: Co Investigator, geometric morphometrics

Research Interests: Jay's research primarily concerns understanding the mechanisms which drive the biological diversification of our species. He has particular interest in differentiating neutral variation from 'adaptive' variation, and the relationship between natural selection and the origins of human plasticity. He works primarily as a human bioarchaeologist, but also conduct research on living humans. Research in both fields aims understand the evolution of human phenotypic variation, to identify the mechanisms underlying human adaptabiliy in response to colonisation events, and to understand the impact of these mechanisms on skeletal biology and the fossil record. Jay is currently based at University of Western Ontario, Canada.

Key Publications:

•   Macintosh A.A., Pinhasi R. and Stock J.T. (2016). Early Life Conditions and Physiological Stress following the Transition to Farming in Central/Southeast Europe: Skeletal Growth Impairment and 6000 Years of Gradual Recovery. PLoS One DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0148468.
•   Stock J.T. and Macintosh A.A. (2016). Lower limb biomechanics and habitual mobility among mid-Holocene populations of the Cis-Baikal. Quaternary International DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2015.04.052.
•   Pinhasi R. and Stock J.T. (2011). Human Bioarchaeology of the Transition to Agriculture.
•   Gallego Llorente M., Jones E.R., Eriksson A., Siska V., Arthur K.W., Arthur J.W., Curtis M.C., Stock J.T., Coltorti M., Pieruccini P., Stretton S., Brock F., Higham T., Park Y., Hofreiter M., Bradley D.G., Bhak J., Pinhasi R. and Manica A. (2015). Ancient Ethiopian genome reveals extensive Eurasian admixture throughout the African continent.. Science, 350(6262), 820-822. DOI: 10.1126/science.aad2879.
•   Longman D., Wells J.C. and Stock J.T. (2015). Can persistence hunting signal male quality? A test considering digit ratio in endurance athletes.. PLoS One DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0121560.