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Department of Archaeology

Staff

Prof Charlotte Roberts, BA (Hons), MA, PhD, SRN

Professor in the Department of Archaeology
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41154
Room number: 223
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41154

(email at c.a.roberts@durham.ac.uk)

BIOGRAPHY

I now work part-time, 3 days a week.

BACKGROUND

I am a bioarchaeologist, and have a background in archaeology, environmental archaeology and human bioarchaeology. I have studied and interpreted human remains from archaeological sites for the past 30 years, and I am specifically interested in exploring the interaction of people with their environments in the past through patterns of health and disease (palaeopathology), and especially those health problems that are common today. My key research interest is in the origin, evolution and history of infectious diseases.

I also try to utilize multiple lines of evidence for reconstructing past health, including exploring the application of medical anthropological and evolutionary biological approaches to bioarchaeology. Furthermore, I have a strong active interest in past concepts of disease causation and therapeutic measures.

I have always promoted the need for the contextualisation of biological data for health problems experienced by our ancestors through many of my publications and in my teaching - see my publications below (e.g. see books: Roberts and Cox 2003, Roberts and Buikstra 2003, Roberts and Manchester 2005, Roberts 2007, Roberts and Cox 2007).

MY CAREER

A State Registered Nurse initially (1975-8), I completed a BA in Archaeological Studies (Leicester - 1979-1982), a MA Environmental Archaeology and Palaeoeconomy (Sheffield - 1983), and a PhD (bioarchaeology/ palaeopathology/ medical history - Bradford 1988).

I was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2014, gained an Excellence in Teaching Award in 1999, and an Excellence in Doctoral Supervision Award in 2009

I am currently the President of BABAO (British Association of Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology) - 2015-2018

My nursing background, particularly, has guided me into taking an holistic approach to past ill health in bioarchaeology, something that was also considered essential in a hospital environment. Understanding why and how people and communities today experience health problems is essential to be able to understand ill health in the past. This includes a consideration of the impact of age, sex, gender, ethnicity, religion, and social, economic and political status on disease occurrence.

Appointed Lecturer (US equivalent of Assistant Professor) in 1989 and Senior Lecturer in 1994 (US equivalent of Associate Professor) at Bradford University, I moved to Durham University in 2000 to become a Reader, finally being promoted to Professor of Archaeology in 2004 (US equivalent of Full Professor).

In terms of teaching, I have successfully initiated and on taught two masters courses (Bradford: MSc Osteology, Palaeopathology and Funerary Archaeology 1990-1999, and Durham: MSc Palaeopathology 2000-date).

MY OTHER LIFE:

I do other things too, because I strive to have a work-life balance(!), and since starting to work part-time (October 2017), I am having more time to do more of the things I do in my "other life"!

I love all things natural history, the outdoors and the countryside, and have been involved with many different outdoor activities; currently, I remain a keen fell runner, skier and cyclist (cycled from Lands End to John O' Groats in 2012!). My current favourite runs where I live are in Wensleydale (Cover Bridge to Coverham Abbey along the river, and back via Middleham Castle) and in Swaledale (from Muker to Keld along the river and back over the tops). I completed the Bob Graham Round in 1996 (66 miles, 27,000 feet of ascent, and 42 mountain tops in 24 hours - in the Lake District) and the Everest Marathon in 1999 (starting at 17,000 feet ASL); these are both achievements that are dear to my heart in places I love. I am also an active member of the Women's Institute (100 years old in 2015!). Amongst making time to do yoga, garden, birdwatch, hike, and support my local community, I ring local church bells, do a bit of flower arranging (I have a Level 2 diploma), sing with two choirs (the Rural Belles and the Dales Community Choir), and have a qualification in dry stone walling!

MY ACADEMIC ACTIVITIES

The sections below record activity within the last 3 years

MEMBERSHIP OF RESEARCH GROUPS AND CENTRES

Bioarchaeology (based in the Department of Archaeology) - https://www.dur.ac.uk/archaeology/research/research_environment/research_groups/bioarchaeology/

Centre for the History of Medicine and Disease (based in the Department of Philosophy) - http://www.dur.ac.uk/chmd/

Centre for Life and Death Studies (based in the Department if Theology) - http://www.dur.ac.uk/cdals/

Centre for the Ethics of Cultural Heritage (University wide Research Centre) - http://www.dur.ac.uk/cech/staff/

Wolfson Research Institute (Durham University) - http://www.dur.ac.uk/wolfson.institute/

Northern Centre for the History of Medicine (Durham/Newcastle Universities) - http://www.nchm.ac.uk/

OUTREACH (selected public lectures/media)

I enjoy talking about my research to beneficiaries beyond academia, and have taught classes for the public since the 1980s, along with giving many public lectures and taking part in TV and radio programmes. Here are the last three years of talks to the public/exhibitions/engagement etc:

2017: Council for British Archaeology Wessex Annual Conference: Ancient DNA and the origins and evolution of infectious disease

2017: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge: Cambridge Archaeology's Garrod seminar series: Everything you might want to know about leprosy, past and present: dispelling some myths

2017: Austrian Archaeological Institute, Vienna, Austria: Bioarchaeology: past, present and future prospects

2017: Middleham and Dales Local History Group: What the study of human remains from archaeological sites can tell us about our ancestors' lives

2017: Newton-le-Willows WI: From nursing to the archaeology of disease: A life caring for the living and the dead

2017: U3A, Leyburn: From nursing to the archaeology of disease: A life caring for the living and the dead

2017: TV Channel 5: Headless gladiators of York

2016: Archaeology for the older generation. Worked with care home residents, Bedale, North Yorkshire and produced a resource booklet (with Kirsty McCarrison, Durham Museums) - see website which includes both this project and Skeleton Science: http://skeletonscience.weebly.com

2016: Skeleton science exhibition: worked with Kirsty McCarrison and Bedale Museum to bring this to Bedale during June

2016: Wensleydale Society: : "Skeletons in closets": what have our ancestors told us about living in northern England in the past?

2015: Gresham College Free Lectures, Museum of London: The archaeology of disease documented in skeletons (http://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/the-archaeology-of-disease-documented-in-skeletons)

2015: Harmby and Spennithorne Women's Institute: Human bones do tell tales

2015: Skeleton science exhibition: worked with Kirsty McCarrison and Matt Storey to bring this to Bede's World, Tyneside during August

2015: Series of six lectures on palaeopathology to students from various disciplines at the Federal University of Espirito Santo, Vitoria, Brazil

2015: Two lectures on palaeopathology to students on the Transylvania Bioarechaeology fieldschool in Cluj, Romania

2015: Inaugural lecture to open the Centre for Medical History, University of Winchester (Archaeological human remains and the history of infectious disease: possibilities and realities)

2014: Worked with Kirsty McCarrison, Durham Museums to transfer the Skeleton Science exhibition to the Thackray Medical Museum, Leeds (February 2014-January 2015)

2014 Bellerby Study Group: Human bones do tell tales

2014 Snape Local History Group: Human bones from archaeological sites do tell tales: possibilities and realities

2014 Skeleton Science Exhibition; previously shown at Durham in 2012, this exhibition has now moved to the Thackray Musuem for 2014 in Leeds

PAST RESEARCH STUDENTS

The following lists supervision of past research students, funding source and nationality of students (B= at my previous institution, the University of Bradford):

Kendra Quinn (A bioarchaeological study of the impact of mobility on transmission of tuberculosis). UK; self funded

Marieke Gernay (Health in late medieval urban north-west Europe: a bioarchaeological study of Caen, Canterbury and Ghent Belgium, France and England); self funded

Zahra Afshar 2015 (Migration, mobility and economic transition in the 3rd millennium BC in the population of south-east of Iran, Shahr-e Sokhta); Iran; self funded

Joint publications:

Afshar Z, Roberts CA, Millard A in press Interpersonal violence among the prehistoric inhabitants living on the Central Plateau of Iran: A voice from Tepe Hissar. Anthropological Science

Michaela Binder 2014 (Health and diet in ancient Nubia through political and social change); Austrian; Leverhulme Trust funded

Joint publications:

Binder M, Roberts CA 2014 Calcified structures associated with human skeletal remains: Possible atherosclerosis affecting the population buried at Amara West, Sudan (1300–800 BC). Int J Paleopathology 6:20-29

Binder M, Roberts CA, Spencer N 2014 On the antiquity of cancer – evidence for metastatic carcinoma in a young man from Ancient Nubia (c. 1200BC). PLOS ONE DOI:10.1371/journal pone.0090924

Devon Lee Kase Tancock 2014 Congenital Defects in 18th and 19th Century Populations from Rural and Urban Northeast England; U.S. self funded

Ashley Tallyn 2014 A study of the health of monks' and nuns' health using multiple lines of evidence. U.S. Self funded

Sharman J 2013: Age, sex and the life course: population variability in human ageing and implications for bioarchaeology. Canada; Self funded

Joint publication:

Roberts CA, Alves Cardoso F, Bernofsky K, Henderson C, Jakob T, Plomp K, Ponce P, Sharman J, Spencer R 2012 Palaeopathology: studying the origin, evolution and frequency of disease in human remains from archaeological sites. UNESCO EOLSS (http://www.eolss.net/)

Marta Diaz-Zorita Bonilla 2013 The copper age in South West Spain: a bioarchaeological approach to prehistoric social organization. Spanish; Government of Anadalucia

Kimberley Plomp 2013: Quantifying palaeopathology: developing objective geometric morphometric methods for recording pathological conditions in human skeletal remains. Canadian; Durham Interdisciplinary Award - with Anthropology

Joint publications:

Plomp KA, Roberts CA, Strand Viðarsdόttir U 2015 Does the correlation between Schmorl’s nodes and vertebral morphology extend into the lumbar spine. American J Physical Anthropology 157:526-534

Plomp KA, Roberts CA, Strand Viðarsdόttir U 2013 Morphological characteristics of healthy and osteoarthritic joint surfaces in archaeological skeletons. Int J Osteoarchaeology 25: 515–527

Plomp KA, Roberts CA, Strand Vidarsdottir U. 2012. Vertebral morphology influences the development of Schmorl’s Nodes in the lower thoracic vertebrae. American J Physical Anthropology 149:572-582

Roberts CA, Alves Cardoso F, Bernofsky K, Henderson C, Jakob T, Plomp K, Ponce P, Sharman J, Spencer R 2012 Palaeopathology: studying the origin, evolution and frequency of disease in human remains from archaeological sites. UNESCO EOLSS (http://www.eolss.net/)

Kirsty McCarrison 2012: Osteological and biomolecular study of prehistoric tuberculosis in Britain. UK; NERC funded

Joint publications:

McCarrison KE, Roberts CA 2016 Skeleton Science. Archaeology for the older generation. Durham University, Palace Green Library

McCarrison KE, Roberts CA 2014 Skeleton Science. Teacher’s Resource Pack. Durham University, Palace Green Library

Ryan Franklin 2011 (University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa; external supervision); The Recognition, Frequency, and Taxonomic Association of Skeletal Pathology from Selected Plio-Pleistocene-aged Sites from the Cradle of Humankind, Witwatersrand, South Africa

Heather Jarrell 2011: (Ohio State University; external supervision) Association Between Skeletal Fractures and Locomotor Behavior, Habitat Use, and Body Mass in Nonhuman Primates

Karen Bernofsky 2010: Respiratory health in the past. A bioarchaeological study of chronic maxillary sinusitis and rib periostitis from the Iron Age to the Post Medieval period in southern England. Canadian; self funded

Joint publication:

Roberts CA, Alves Cardoso F, Bernofsky K, Henderson C, Jakob T, Plomp K, Ponce P, Sharman J, Spencer R 2012 Palaeopathology: studying the origin, evolution and frequency of disease in human remains from archaeological sites. UNESCO EOLSS (http://www.eolss.net/)

Jaime Jennings 2010: Stress along the medieval Anglo-Scottish border? Skeletal indicators of conflict zone health. U.S. Self funded

Paola Ponce 2010: A comparative study of activity-related skeletal changes in 3rd-2nd millennium BC coastal fishers and 1st millennium AD inland agriculturists in Chile, South America. Argentinian; Durham Doctoral Award funded

Joint publication:

Roberts CA, Alves Cardoso F, Bernofsky K, Henderson C, Jakob T, Plomp K, Ponce P, Sharman J, Spencer R 2012 Palaeopathology: studying the origin, evolution and frequency of disease in human remains from archaeological sites. UNESCO EOLSS (http://www.eolss.net/)

Charlotte Henderson 2009: Musculo-skeletal stress markers in bioarchaeology: Indications of activity levels or human variation? UK; self funded

Joint publication:

Roberts CA, Alves Cardoso F, Bernofsky K, Henderson C, Jakob T, Plomp K, Ponce P, Sharman J, Spencer R 2012 Palaeopathology: studying the origin, evolution and frequency of disease in human remains from archaeological sites. UNESCO EOLSS (http://www.eolss.net/)

Rosa Spencer 2008: Testing hypotheses about diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) using stable isotope and aDNA analysis of late medieval populations Canadian/UK; NERC funded

Joint publication:

Roberts CA, Alves Cardoso F, Bernofsky K, Henderson C, Jakob T, Plomp K, Ponce P, Sharman J, Spencer R 2012 Palaeopathology: studying the origin, evolution and frequency of disease in human remains from archaeological sites. UNESCO EOLSS (http://www.eolss.net/)

Francisca Alves Cardoso 2008: A portrait of gender in two late 19th/early 20th century Portuguese populations: a palaeopathological perspective. Portugal; Fundação Para a Ciência Tecnologia funded

Joint publication:

Roberts CA, Alves Cardoso F, Bernofsky K, Henderson C, Jakob T, Plomp K, Ponce P, Sharman J, Spencer R 2012 Palaeopathology: studying the origin, evolution and frequency of disease in human remains from archaeological sites. UNESCO EOLSS (http://www.eolss.net/)

Alvaro Arce 2008 Health in Southern and Eastern England: a perspective on the Early Medieval period. Venuzuela/ Canada; self funded

McNaught J 2007 A clinical and archaeological study of Schmorl’s Nodes: using clinical data to understand the past. UK; self funded

Groves SE 2006 Spears or ploughshares: multiple indicators of activity related stress and social status in four early Medieval populations from north-east England. UK; AHRC funded

Joint publication:

Groves S, Roberts CA, Johnstone C, Hall R, Dobney K 2003 A high status burial from Ripon Cathedral, North Yorkshire, England: differential diagnosis of a chest deformity. Int. J. Osteoarchaeology13:358-368

Caffell AC 2005 Dental caries in Medieval Britain (c. 450-1540): temporal, geographic and contextual patterns. UK; NERC funded

Jakob T 2004 Prevalence and patterns of disease in early Medieval populations: a comparison of skeletal samples from 5th-8th century AD Britain and Germany. Germany; self funded

Joint publication:

Roberts CA, Alves Cardoso F, Bernofsky K, Henderson C, Jakob T, Plomp K, Ponce P, Sharman J, Spencer R 2012 Palaeopathology: studying the origin, evolution and frequency of disease in human remains from archaeological sites. UNESCO EOLSS (http://www.eolss.net/)

Bernard M-C 2003 Tuberculosis: a demographic analysis and social study of admissions to a children’s sanatorium (1936-1954) in Stannington, Northumberland. Canada; self funded

Joint publication:

Roberts CA, Bernard M-C 2015 Tuberculosis: a demographic analysis and social study of admissions to a children’s sanatorium (1936-1954) in Stannington, Northumberland, England. Tuberculosis Special Issue 95: S105-108

Montgomery J 2002 Lead and strontium isotope compositions of human dental tissues as an indicator of ancient exposure and population dynamics. UK; NERC funded (B)

Joint publication:

Montgomery J, Evans J, Powesland D, Roberts CA 2005 Continuity or colonization in Anglo-Saxon England? Isotope evidence for mobility, subsistence practice, and status at West Heslerton. American J. Physical Anthropology 126(2):123-138

Sture J 2002 Biocultural perspectives on birth defects in late Medieval rural and urban populations in Northern England. UK; AHRC funded

Santos AL 2000 (University of Coimbra, external supervision) A skeletal picture of tuberculosis. Macroscopic, radiological, biomolecular and historical evidence from the Coimbra Identified Collection. Portugal; Fundação Para a Ciência Tecnologia 

Joint publications:

Santos A, Roberts CA 2001 A picture of tuberculosis in young Portuguese people in the early 20th century. Amer.J.Phys.Anthrop. 115:38-49

Santos AL, Roberts CA 2006 Anatomy of a serial killer: differential diagnosis of tuberculosis based on rib lesions of adult individuals from the Coimbra Identified Skeletal Collection, Portugal. American J. Physical Anthropology 130: 38-49

Redman JE, Shaw MJ, Mallet AI, Santos AL, Roberts CA, Gernay AM, Minnikin DE 2009 Mycocerosic acid biomarkers for the diagnosis of tuberculosis in the Coimbra skeletal collection. Tuberculosis 89:267-277

Keeping D 2000 Life and death in English nunneries: a biocultural study of variations in the health of women during the later Medieval period, 1066-1540. Canada; Commonwealth Foundation funded

Freeth C 1999 Dental health in biocultural perspective UK; self funded (B)

Lewis M 1999 The impact of urbanization: an assessment of morbidity and mortality in British non-adult populations. UK; University of Bradford funded (B)

Joint publications:

Roberts CA, Lewis ME 2002 Ecology and infectious disease in Britain from prehistory to the present: the case of respiratory infection. In P Bennike, E Bodzsar, C Susanne (eds): Ecological aspects of past human settlements in Europe. European Anthropological Association Biennial Yearbook. Budapest, Eotvos University Press, pp. 179-192

Lewis ME, Roberts CA 1997 Growing pains: the interpretation of stress indicators. Int.J.Osteoarchaeology 7:581-586

Margerison B 1997 A comparison of the palaeodemography of catastrophic and attritional cemeteries. UK; SERC funded (B)

Dalby G 1994 Middle ear disease in antiquity. UK; self funded (B)

Joint publication:

Dalby G, Manchester K, Roberts CA 1993 Osteosclerosis and stapedial footplate fixation in archaeological material. International J. Osteoarchaeology 3:207-212

RECENT CONFERENCES

2017

International (and interdisciplinary) Symposium on the subject of Disease and the Ancient World, Oxford; The archaeology of disease: how studying human remains informs us about health and well-being. Invited keynote speaker

Annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropology, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Stressed in Transylvania: utilizing macroscopic skeletal analysis to track metabolic stress between late Antiquity and Middle Ages in Romania

Annual meeting of thePaleopathology Association, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA: Investigating the impact of air quality on the occurrence of Respiratory Disease in the Middle Nile Valley Comparing Kerma and Medieval sites

BABAO Annual Conference, Liverpool: Ethics and archaeological human remains: let’s take a step back

2016

Annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA: Posters: Keeping up with the kids: mobility patterns of young individuals from the St Mary Magdalen leprosy hospital (Winchester); A skeleton with possible leprosy from a post-Medieval cemetery in Riga, Latvia

21st European Meeting of the Paleopathology Association, Moscow, Russia: Keynote lecture: The development of diagnostic criteria for tuberculosis in palaeopathology: a temporal perspective and a cautionary tale.

Annual Conference of the BABAO, University of Kent, Canterbury: Posters: Assessing physiological stress in young people with leprosy buried at a Medieval English leprosarium using stable isotope analyses from high-resolution incremental dentine; Spondylolysis in ancient Nubia during the Meroitic to Christian periods; A 6500 years old Middle Neolithic child from Pollera Cave, Liguria, Northwestern Italy with probably multifocal osteoarticular tuberculosis

19th International Leprosy Congress, Beijing, China: applying the “index of care” to a person who experienced leprosy in late Medieval Chichester, England

19th International Leprosy Congress, Beijing, China: Assessing physiological stress in young people with leprosy buried at a Medieval English leprosarium using stable isotope analyses from high-resolution incremental dentine

Economic and Human Biology Conference, Tubingen, Germany: The developmental origins hypothesis. Early life stress and adult age at death in Europe: evidence from skeletal remains

Australasian Society for Human Biology Conference, Otago, New Zealand; invited keynote speaker: Palaeopathology: its value in understanding our ancestors’ lives, and some perspectives on its development over the last 30 or so years (with a focus on the UK), and for the University of Otago's meeting on the theme of Asia-Pacific Biocultural Health: The implications of our past on human health today:The bioarchaeology of infectious disease: synergies between past and present

2015

Launch of new Centre for Medical History, University of Winchester: Archaeological human remains and the history of infectious disease: possibilities and realities. Invited keynote speaker

Annual Meeting of the Paleopathology Association, St Louis, Missouri, USA: Symposium: Exploring the Theme of Migration in Paleopathology: Past, Present, and Future. Invited paper: The impact of migration on health: past palaeopathological perspectives and future prospects; and two other papers: Assessing leprosy stigmata in medieval England (AD11th-15th centuries); Migrant health, an analysis of prehistoric health in relation to mobility in a Wadi Suq population at Ra’s Al-Khaimah, UAE

Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, St Louis, Missouri, USA: Organisation of Poster Symposium: The Bioarchaeology of Cardiovascular Disease; 3 posters: The impact of bioarchaeological study on understanding the evolution of cardiovascular disease; Calcified structures as potential evidence of atherosclerosis associated with human skeletal remains from Amara West (1300–800BC); Survival of calcified atheromata in the archaeological record - The effect of taphonomy, excavation and curation strategies on preservation and analysis.

Annual Conference of the Society for General Microbiology, Birmingham: Invited paper for session on Microbial Archaeology: Palaeopathology: using evidence from archaeological skeletons to track the origin, evolution and history of infectious disease

Annual Conference of the Society of American Archaeology, San Francisco, USA: Invited paper for session on the Bioarchaeology of care: The potential and challenges of constructing a bioarchaeology of care for a person with leprosy in the late Medieval period

Health care: supply and demand in prehistory and history, Goththenburg, Sweden: Assessing the evidence for health care using bioarchaeology: potential, limitations and thoughts for future work. Invited keynote lecture

South American Conference of the Paleopathology Association, Buenos Aires, Argentina: Palaeopathological research: The impact on beneficiaries beyond academia in the UK 

45th Biannual Polish Anthropological Society Conference: Facing challenges of human-environment interactions, Poznan: Palaeopathology and its relevance to unerstanding health and disease today: the impact of the environment on health past and present. Keynote lecture

Sex, Disease, and Fertility in History: An Interdisciplinary Conference, University of Cambridge: 'The history of treponematosis contirnues to be one of the most contentious issues in science' (Ortner 2003:273): perspectives from bioarchaeology. Invited lecture

'Life of Breath' research project launch, Durham University: Respiratory health in the archaeological record. Invited lecture

BABAO Annual Conference, Sheffield University: Co-authored presentations with Durham PhD students: Zahra Afshar (Violence in Iran), Kori Filipek-Ogden (Mobility of children with leprosy at Winchester), Petersone-Gordina (Dental disease and diet in Latvia), with a Durham MSc Palaeopathology student: Becca Cadbury-Simmons (The bioarchaeology of multiple sclerosis), and with Durham postdoc Vitale Sparacello (Funerary dynamics at Arena Candide, Italy), along with colleagues at Cranfield University: Emma Saunders and Nick Marquez-Grant (Bioarchaeology of the 21st century).

7th International Colloquium, Ten Duinen, Abdjimuseum, Koksjide, Belgium: Dead men talking. Interdisciplinary research into archaeological burial contexts in Northwest Europe (10th-16th centuries): The application of bioarchaeology to reconstructing our ancestors' lives in late medieval British funerary contexts: a brief history. Invited speaker

Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Denver, Colorado, USA: Session on Strange Bodies, Familiar Divides: Embodiments of Otherness: ‘Til Poison Phosphorous Brought Them Death’: The Construction and Othering of Working Class Bodies in 19th Century England

2014

Annual Conference of the Paleopathology Association, Calgary, Canada: Papers: Co-author: Linking the past to the present: the synoptic results of a palaeo-oncological meta-analysis; Co-author: Cancer in ancient Egypt: a skeleton with metastatic carcinoma from Amera West, Upper Nubia (3200BP); Genotypes of historic strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from archaeological remains; Posters: Co-author: On the cusp of change: impacts of subsistence strategy changes on the health of a Wadi Suq (2200-1300BP) population from Ra's Al-Khaimah; Co-author: Irresistible corruption: a palaeopathological examination of lead poisoning and its shaping of the mortality and morbidity profile of an urban industrial period Quaker population in north-east England

Annual Conference of the American Association of Physical Anthropology, Calgary, Canada: Organised poster symposium on Neglected infectious diseases in palaeopathology and clinical medicine: past, current and future research on leprosy. Symposium dedicated to the memory of Donald J. Ortner: Posters: An overview of the global palaeopathological evidence for leprosy; Concepts of leprosy today in the western world: results of a survey

Society for American Archaeology Annual Conference, Austin, Texas Poster: Disparities in health: An investigation into mobility and dietary impacts on disease prevalence in two Wadi Suq tombs at Ra's al-Khaimah, UAE

Engaging with the dead: exploring changing human beliefs about death, mortality and the human body, Durham University: Paper: Developing and implementing important big picture approaches in bioarchaeology: opportunities and challenges

Dis/ability: Archaeologie und Anthropologie – Funde und Befunde, Bremen, Germany: Paper: Bioarchaeology and “disability”: using the present to inform interpretations of past impairment. Invited paper

Paleopathology Association European Conference, Lund, Sweden: Chair of a session. Paper: Applying the “Index of Care” to a person who suffered leprosy in late Medieval England. Poster: An occupationally related disease in a 19th century skeleton from north-east England? The past and present of “phossy jaw”

 BABAO Annual Conference, Durham, UK: Papers: Climate change and respiratory disease at Amara West, in Sudan – a bioarchaeological perspective; Dietary evolution and cultural change during the 5th to 2nd millennium BC at Tepe Hissar, Iran. Posters: An occupationally related disease in a 19th century skeleton from north-east England? The past and present of “phossy jaw”; Mycobacteria are everywhere: implications for the study of tuberculosis in archaeological skeletal remains; Differential diagnoses of bending deformities in a non-adult skeleton from St Peter’s Church in Riga, Latvia

Royal Archaeological Institute: Science in archaeology, Bradford University, UK: Human remains – the last 40 years. Invited paper

Biomedical sciences and methods in archaeology, Bordeaux, France: Bioarchaeology and biomedical sciences: perspectives on their development. Invited keynote paper

Disease, disability and medicine in Medieval Europe, Nottingham University, UK: Applying the index of care to a person who suffered leprosy in late medieval England.

RESEARCH STUDENTS

I welcome PhD student applications from well qualified and enthusiastic people who want to do research in palaeopathology. I have a particular research interest in the infectious diseases but I am willing to discuss being a supervisor in other areas in palaeopathology.

I was given one of Durham University's 'Excellence in Doctoral Supervision' Awards in 2009

I currently supervise the following research students; unless otherwise stated I act as primary supervisor:

Susan Aylard (Does Parasitic Infection Correlate With Stress During Childhood? Exploring the Impact of Poor Living Environments on the Development of Skeletal Indicators of “Stress” and Parasitic Infection in the Bioarchaeological Record); Canadian; self funded

Anna Barrett (The impact of sociocultural and environmental change on air quality and respiratory health in the 4th Cataract, Sudan: a bioarchaeological perspective). UK: AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award with the British Museum (Daniel Antoine)

Kayla Crowder (Diet and mobility at the Jucu de Sus Necropolis, 4th – 12th Century, Transylvania, Romania). USA; Self funded. 50:50 supervised with Janet Montgomery

Kori Filipek-Ogden (Illness, Isolation, and Isotopes: Assessing leprosy stigma in late Medieval England (12th-16th centuries AD) and its impact on health and contemporary society). USA; self funded

Joint publications:

Filipek K, Roberts CA in press Specific infectious disease (leprosy, TB, treponematosis, others documented in bones/teeth. In W Trevathan (ed): Int Encyclopedia of Biological Anthropology

Roberts CA, Caffell A, Filipek-Ogden KL, Jakob T, Gowland R ‘Til Poison Phosphorous Brought them Death’ 2016 An occupationally-related disease in a post-medieval skeleton from Coach Lane, North Shields, north-east England. Int J Paleopathology 13:39-48

Claire Hodson (Stressed at birth: metric variation in infants to determine whether stress affects skeletal dimensions); UK; AHRC funded. 2nd Supervisor.

Simon Hughes (Human Remains in a Museum Contexts: Storage and Study); UK; self-funded

Mocen Li (Diachronic changes in health and the transition to agriculture in China); Chinese; self-funded

Aryel Pacheco (Tuberculosis in Andean communities from the Tarapacá area (North of Chile) between 900 BC to 1450 AD. Chile; Chilean government funded

Julie Peacock (Disability and traumatic brain injury (TBI) in Britain: AD 1066-AD 1800). U.K. AHRC funded

Elina Petersone-Gordina (Living outside the city gate: a palaeopathological, isotopic and comparative analysis of the post-medieval St Gertrude Church cemetery population in Riga, Latvia). Latvia; AHRC and Wenner Gren funded

Samantha Tipper (A Bioarchaeological approach to the analysis of Vertebral Fractures amongst the Ancient Nubians from 5000B.C to 1500 A.D); UK; self funded

Research Interests

  • Bioarchaeological approaches to the history of disease and medicine worldwide and any period, especially infectious disease
  • Bioarchaeology, or the integration of biological with archaeological data to study past human populations through their skeletal remains
  • The application of biomolecular techniques to answer archaeological questions
  • The history of the infectious diseases, especially tuberculosis and leprosy

Indicators of Esteem

  • 2017: Eve Cockburn Service Award, Paleopathology Association:
  • 2017: Invited keynote speaker at the International Symposium on Disease and the Ancient World, Oxford University:
  • 2017: Invited seminar: Austrian Archaeological Institute, Vienna, Austria:
  • 2017: Invited seminar: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge:
  • 2017: Invited to be a member of the Pomerance Science Medal Committee (AIA) :
  • 2017: Invited to membership of the Scientific Advisory Board, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, Austria:
  • 2016: Invited keynote lecture: 21st European Meeting of the Paleopathology Association, Moscow, Russia:
  • 2016: Invited keynote speaker at the Australasian Society for Human Biology Conference, Otago, New Zealand:
  • 2016: Invited on panel for ‘Biological Anthropology: Possible Futures: A discussion from across the field’, Oxford University:
  • 2016: Invited seminar speaker, Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee Visiting Lecture Series:
  • 2015: Elected President of the British Association of Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (2015-2018):
  • 2015: Invited chair of (Purposeful Pain) session at the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Denver, Colorado, USA:
  • 2015: Invited inaugural speaker for the opening of the new Centre for Medical History, University of Winchester:
  • 2015: Invited keynote speaker at a conference on ‘Healthcare: Supply and Demand in Prehistory and History’, University of Gothenburg, Sweden:
  • 2015: Invited keynote speaker at the 45th Biannual Polish Anthropological Society conference, Poznan, Poland:
  • 2015: Invited keynote speaker at the First Meeting of Paleopathology at the Universidade Federal do Espirito Santo (UFES),Vitoria, Brazil:
  • 2015: Invited keynote speaker for the Medieval Archaeology Society conference (Being Medieval: Archaeology, Society and the Human Experience), UCLAN:
  • 2015: Invited lecturer, Gresham College, London:
  • 2015: Invited speaker for a conference on 'Sex, Disease, and Fertility', University of Cambridge:
  • 2015: Invited speaker in ‘Microbial archaeology’ session at the Society for General Microbiology Conference, Birmingham:
  • 2015: Invited speaker in session on “Migration and palaeopathology”, Paleopathology Association Annual Meeting, St Louis, Missouri, USA:
  • 2015: Invited speaker in session on the ‘Bioarchaeology of care’, Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, USA:
  • 2015: Invited to Notre Dame University, South Bend, Indiana, USA :
  • 2014: Elected a Fellow of the British Academy:
  • 2014: Invited speaker at a workshop on Disability, University of Bremen, Germany :
  • 2014: Invited speaker at the Congress of Biomedical Sciences in Archaeology, Bordeaux, France:
  • 2014: Invited speaker at the Royal Archaeological Institute Annual Conference:
  • 2014: REF2014 (Research Excellence Framework). Subpanel member of C17 - elected member for Archaeology:
  • 2013: Annual Conference of the Society for American Archaeology, Honolulu, Hawaii: invited paper:
  • 2013: Durham Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (MEMSA) 7th Annual Postgraduate Conference (The Mutilated Body): invited keynote paper:
  • 2013: Finnish Medico-Historical Society’s 24th Nordic Medical History Congress, Helsinki, Finland: invited keynote paper:
  • 2013: Invited discussant for 2 sessions at the 2013 American Association of Physical Anthropology Meeting, Knoxville, Tennessee:
  • 2012: Deputy Editor of the International Journal of Paleopathology:
  • 2012: ICEPT -2. The past and present of tuberculosis: a multidisciplinary overview of the origin and evolution of TB, Szeged, Hungary:invited paper:
  • 2011: Advisor on Digitised Diseases JISC-funded project (University of Bradford): 2011-2013:
  • 2011: Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists, Oslo, Norway: invited paper:
  • 2011: Arizona State University: IHR Fellows Symposium: invited paper:
  • 2011: Institute of Irish Archaeologists Annual Conference on Science and Archaeology, Dublin, Ireland: : invited keynote paper:
  • 2010: 18th European Meeting of the Paleopathology Association: Invited keynote lecture:
  • 2010: Associate Editor of International Journal of Palaeopathology and Member of the Advisory Board:
  • 2010: First entry to Who's Who:
  • 2010: President of the Paleopathology Association 2011-2013: Elected President for 2011-2013
  • 2010: Working party member for BABAO Ethics and Practice Policies:
  • 2008: Invited to be Discussant at symposium at the Annual Meeting of the Paleopathology Association in Chicago, 2009 (interpersonal violence):
  • 2007: Invited by the Natural History Museum to be a member of the Human Remains Data Collection Workshop :
  • 2007: Invited to be Discussant at symposium at the Society for American Archaeology conference, Vancouver, Canada:
  • 2006: Invited discussant for Plague Workshop, Wellcome Trust, London:
  • 2006: Invited to be a member of the Grants Review Panel for 2 years for the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, New York:
  • 2005: Invited to be consultant for Leicester University Archaeological Services :
  • 2003: Elected Vice President of the Paleopathology Association :
  • 2003: Invited to be a consultant for Museum of London Spitalfields Market Project:
  • 2002: Invited member of the BABAO Working Group on recording standards :
  • 2001: Director at Large, Paleopathology Association, 2001-3:
  • 2001: Invited to be part of the Calouste Gulbenkian Trust (London) Scientists Diary:
  • 2001: Invited to be U.K. representative for ‘Health in Europe’ project; initial meeting in Columbus, Ohio, June 2001:
  • 2001: Invited to chair a session at the ‘Holocene environmental catastrophes and recovery’ conference, Brunel University, London:
  • 1999: Invited discussant for session at Theoretical Archaeology Group Conference, Cardiff:
  • 1998: Invited discussant for symposium at the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A. :
  • Invited paper at the Annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropology, Austin, Texas: Session on A Community of Care: Expanding Bioarchaeology of Care to Population Level Analyses:
  • Invited to be part of Seminar on The Evolution of Syphilis: A New Approach to an Old Debate, School of Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico:
  • Invited to the Global History of Health Project East Asia Module Kick off Conference, Jilin, China:

Selected Publications

Authored book

Book review

Chapter in book

Conference Paper

Edited book

Edited Journal

Journal Article

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Roberts, CA (2013). Human remains: should we study them? Young Archaeologist 156: 8-9.

Other (Print)

Show all publications

Selected Grants

  • 2014: COFUND Round 4, European Commission, £81,311
  • 2014: Wadsworth International Fellowship Renewal, £6665
  • 2013: Natural Environmental Research Council (Palaeopopulation genomics of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Co-I with Terry Brown, Manchester University) - total £486,419 (£44,500 to Durham)
  • 2013: Renewal of Wadsworth Fellowship, Wenner Gren Foundation, £5845 (for Elina Petersone-Gordina)
  • 2012: Templeton Foundation (The invisible dead). PI Chris Scarre; Co-Leader with Graham Philip (£211-539)
  • 2011: Durham International Fellowships for Research and Enterprise - DIFeREns (£83406.97 from European Commission)
  • 2011: Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, Oxford: NERC Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Dating Service (£13,110) – Biomolecular archaeology of ancient TB
  • 2009: Leverhulme Trust: Health and diet in ancient Nubia through political and climate change (Co-I with Neal Spencer, British Museum); £52,066 for tied studentship at Durham plus FEC costs as Co-I
  • 2008: British Aacdemy (Indigenous or incomers. A mobility study of people with pre-Columbian venereal syphilis at Hull Magistrates Court) - PI with Co-Is Dr Andrew Millard and Professor Graham Pearson (£2765)
  • 2008: Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Dating Service Programme - six dates for Bamburgh Castle Project)
  • 2007: Natural Environmental Research Council (Biomolecular archaeology of tuberculosis in ancient Britain and Europe) – Co-PI with Terry Brown, Manchester University (£211,427 – FEC - to Durham for tied PhD studentship and postdoctoral research associate, and research costs)
  • 2005: Arts and Humanities Research Council (The Bamburgh Bowl-Hole Anglian cemetery: a contextual study) - PI with Co-Is Sam Lucy and Graham Pearson (£220,563 – for postdoctoral research associate, and research costs)
  • 2015: Collaborative Doctoral Award: The impact of sociocultural and environmental change on air quality and respiratory health in the 4th Cataract Sudan: a bioarchaeological perspective (£3500.00 from The British Museum)
  • 2014: 2 year Junior Research Fellowship, Cofund Round 4, European Commission; for Vitale Sparacello
  • 2013: Palaeopopulation genomics of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (£44515.07 from NERC - Natural Environment Research Council)
  • 2013: Renewal of Wadsworth Fellowship, Wenner Gren Foundation, £5845 (for Elina Petersone-Gordina)

Supervises