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Department of Archaeology

Staff

Dr Becky Gowland

Senior Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology

Contact Dr Becky Gowland (email at rebecca.gowland@durham.ac.uk)

Biography

I studied for my undergraduate degree at this very Department and it was during this time that I first developed an interest in studying human bones. On completing my degree, I spent a year working for various archaeological units; excavating sites of all periods and types from settlements to cemeteries. This work gave me the opportunity to excavate and analyse human skeletal remains from a variety of time periods. Having enjoyed this experience immensely, I undertook the MSc in Osteology, Palaeopathology and Funerary Archaeology taught jointly between the Universities of Sheffield and Bradford. It was during this time that I began to specialise in skeletal age estimation techniques and age as an aspect of social identity, and I returned to Durham University to pursue this subject at doctoral level. During the course of my PhD I became interested in the divide between science and social theory in archaeology and the implications of this for human skeletal analysis and funerary archaeology. This became the subject of a book The Social Archaeology of Funerary Remains that I co-edited with Dr Chris Knüsel (University of Exeter).

After completing my PhD, I became a Postdoctoral Research Assistant at the Department of Archaeology, University of Sheffield, where I worked on a project examining skeletal indicators of age-at-death and the palaeodemography of both catastrophic and attritional skeletal assemblages. On completing this post I was awarded a Junior Research Fellowship at St John’s College, University of Cambridge, which I began in February 2003. Whilst at Cambridge I began to collaborate with several members of the Classics Faculty on projects involving human skeletal remains from Rome and this collaboration continues today.

In October 2006 I was appointed as Lecturer in Bioarchaeology at the University of Durham. I am very happy to be teaching and researching human skeletal remains in the department where I first became fascinated by them myself.

I currently teach human skeletal analysis at both Undergraduate and Masters level. I also co-organise and teach a short course in Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology with Dr Tim Thompson at Teesside University. Tim and I have recently completed a co-authored book Human Identity and Identification which examines the inter-relationship between social identity and the biological tissues of the body.

Research Interests

  • Health and demography in the Roman world
  • Skeletal ageing and age as an aspect of social identity
  • Social perceptions, care and treatment of the physically impaired in early medieval England
  • The history of malaria in England
  • The inter-relationship between the physical body and social identity

Teaching Areas

  • Bones and Human Societies
  • Identification and Analysis of the Normal Human Skeleton
  • Palaeopathology. Theory and Method
  • Themes in Palaeopathology

Indicators of Esteem

  • 2013: External Examiner: Bounemouth University:
  • 2013: Invited speaker: Ancient Perspectives on Ageing Retirement and Health, Manchester:
  • 2013: Treasurer of the Society for the Study of Childhood in the Past:
  • 2010: Treasurer of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology:

Publications

Book chapters: online

Books: authored

Books: edited

Books: reviews

Books: sections

  • Gowland, R. (2006). Age as an aspect of social identity: the archaeological funerary evidence. In Social Archaeology of Funerary Remains. Gowland, R. & Knusel, C. Oxford: Oxbow. 143-154.
  • Gowland, R. L. & Knusel, C. J. (2006). Introduction. In Social Archaeology of Funerary Remains. Gowland, R. L. & Knusel, C. J. Oxford: Oxbow. ix-xiv.

Edited works: conference proceedings

Edited works: contributions

Journal papers: academic

Journal papers: popular

  • Redfern, R, Gowland, R & Powell, L (2013). La sante des enfants sous l'Empire romain. Dossiers d'Archaeologie 356: 80-83.

Related Links

Selected Grants

  • 2010: Investigating morbidity and malaria in Anglo-Saxon wetland environments (British Academy Small Grant). Research Assistants are Gaynor Western and Martin Redding.
  • 2008: One NorthEast Pathfinder: Body Location and Recovery in Forensic Contexts (£39,000)

Supervises