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Durham University

Department of Archaeology


Publication details for Professor Charlotte Roberts

Roberts, C.A. (2010). Adaptation of populations to changing environments: Bioarchaeological perspectives on health for the past, present and future. Bulletins et Mémoires de la Société d'Anthropologie de Paris 22(1-2): 38-46.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper explores the contribution bioarchaeology has made, and is making, to our understanding of past health. It focuses on the importance of research on the bioarchaeology of ill health for the past, present and future, the history of its development, some research problems that have been tackled, recent developments in knowledge and analytical techniques, and finally what big questions about past health bioarchaeologists are starting to explore, which are particularly relevant to today and the future. Ancient pathogen DNA analysis, stable isotope analyses, imaging and histological techniques are addressed, along with answering specific questions about the impact of poor air quality, mobility, climate change and re-emerging infections. The future for bioarchaeology is finally considered and focuses on emphasising a question-driven approach, large synthetic comparative studies of human remains in context, utilisation, and justification, of appropriate techniques of analysis, continued excavation and curation of human remains from archaeological sites, and collaborating with people from different disciplines.