animal jaw in pit
Burrough Hill, excavating jawbone of an animal
Bioarchaeology is the study of biological materials recovered from archaeological sites. It encompasses a variety of sub-disciplines that includes osteoarchaeology (human remains), zooarchaeology (animal remains), archaeobotany (plant remains), archaeomalacology (molluscs), palynology (pollen), palaeoentomology (insects), and genetics. Bioarchaeolgy is a core research and teaching strength at Leicester.  Major research projects are currently exploring subsistence practices amongst hunter-gatherer communities and the relationships between food and identity in the Roman and medieval period. Bioarchaeology is embedded throughout our undergraduate and postgraduate teaching (both campus based and distance learning) and the School has an excellent and full equipped set of dedicated research and teaching laboratories.

Core Staff

Jo Appleby; Huw Barton; Turi King; Richard Thomas

All staff are internationally-recognised for their research and have interests and projects that span both time (from early prehistory to the 19th century) and space (Asia, Australasia, Europe, North Africa). Complementing the academic team are dedicated technicians and the University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) who employs specialists in human bones, faunal remains, plant remains and marine shells.

Key Research Projects

Publication highlights

Appleby, J., Thomas, R., & Buikstra, J. (2015). Increasing confidence in paleopathological diagnosis - Application of the Istanbul terminological framework. International Journal of Paleopathology. 8, pp. 19-21.

Appleby, J., Rutty, G. N., Hainsworth, S. V., Woosnam-Savage, R. C., Morgan, B., Brough, A. and Buckley, R. (2015). Perimortem trauma in King Richard III: a skeletal analysis. The Lancet. 385(9964), pp.17-23.

Appleby, J. E. P., Mitchell, P. D., Robinson, C., Brough, A., Rutty, G., Harris, R. and Morgan, B. (2014). The Scoliosis of Richard III, last Plantagenet King of England. Diagnosis and clinical significance. The Lancet.

Appleby, J. E. P., Seetak, T. K., Caloan, D., Caval, S., Pluskowski, A., Lafleur, J. F. and Teelock, V. (2012). The non-adult cohort from Le Morne cemetery, Mauritius: a snap shot of early life and death after abolition. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, Early View.

Appleby, J. E. P., Rutty, G. N., Hainsworth, S. V., Woosnam Savage, R. C., Morgan, B., Brough, A. and Buckley, R. (2015). Peri-mortem skeletal trauma in Richard III. The Lancet.

Crespo, C., Rissech, C., Thomas, R., Juán, A., Appleby, J., & Turbón, D. (2015) Sexual dimorphism of the pelvic girdle from 3D images of a living Spanish sample from Castilla-La Mancha. HOMO- Journal of Comparative Human Biology. 66(2), 149-157.

Lamb, A. L., Evans, J. E., Buckley, R., & Appleby, J. (2014). Multi-isotope analysis demonstrates significant lifestyle changes in King Richard III. Journal of Archaeological Science, 50, pp. 559-565.

King, T. E., Fortes, G. G., Balaresque, P., Thomas, M. G., Balding, D., Maisano Delser, P. and Schürer, K. (2014). Identification of the remains of King Richard III. Nat Commun. 5, p. 5631.

Lamb, A. L., Evans, J. E., Buckley, R., & Appleby, J. (2014) Multi-isotope analysis demonstrates significant lifestyle changes in King Richard III. Journal of Archaeological Science. 50, pp. 559-565.

Mitchell, P. D., Yeh, H. Y., Appleby, J., & Buckley, R. (2013). The intestinal parasites of King Richard III. Lancet. 382(9895), p. 888.

Thomas, R. and Fothergill, B. T. (eds) (2014). Animals, and their Bones, in the ‘Modern’ World (AD1750-1900). Anthropozoologica. 49(1).

Exploring Bioarchaeology at postgraduate level at Leicester

The School offers a series of dedicated Bioarchaeology modules as part of the MA Archaeology, which include teaching and research components in zooarchaeology. Optional Bioarchaeology modules are also available for study by students taking other MA programmes and elements of bioarchaeology are embedded within several MA modules (e.g. Households and Domesticity in the Ancient World; Doing Historical Archaeology).

Current and recently-completed doctoral research includes: From New World to Old: turkey pathologies as a reflection of human behaviour (Brooklynne Fothergill); Food and status in Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian burhs (Matilda Holmes); Introduction and dispersal of exotic food plants into Europe (Alexandra Livarda); Subsistence patterning of Prehistoric Coastal California (Judith Porcasi); Farmers in transition: the archaeobotanical analysis of the Carpathian Basin from the Late Neolithic to the Late Bronze Age (Kelly Reed); A generic recording system for animal palaeopathology (Stephanie Vann); Arable practice in the Iron Age and Roman East of England (Kate Parks) For further details see our list of postgraduate research students and their topics

We welcome applications from UK, EU and International students for doctoral research with the School. PhDs on  bioarchaeology can be undertaken by both campus-based study and Distance Learning, or a blend of the two. See also further information on our Postgraduate Study programmes.

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