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Durham University

Department of Archaeology


Ms Kayla Crowder, AA BA MSc

(email at


  • Manchester Science Festival (October 2018) – British Association of Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (BABAO), The bare bones!
  • Bodies of Evidence: How science unearthed Durham’s dark secrets (June-October 2018) – Palace Green Library, Ask an archaeologist
  • York Festival of Ideas (June 2018) – BABAO, Skeleton Stories: Bodies of evidence from prehistory to present 

Research Interests

Early life stress in Medieval Transylvania: the use of macroscopic and isotopic analyses to determine how early life stress affected survival in the past. 


Living conditions, an underlying genetic predisposition, a well-balanced diet, socio-economic “status”, and political unrest leading to migration, can greatly impact health. For example, the ‘Barker Hypothesis’ has found that stressors during development can result in a shorter life-span, heart disease, and diabetes. The aim of this study is to integrate information on diet, mobility history and disease collected from archaeological skeletons to understand how these factors impacted health in Medieval Transylvania, Romania. Because it offers passage to and from the Black Sea, Transylvania has experienced centuries of migration, trade, disease, and conflict.

This study utilizes macroscopic (skeletal) and isotopic (chemical) analyses to determine disease prevalence, dietary patterns, and migratory status of two populations who lived and died in Transylvania. The outcomes of this project will provide original contextually driven insight regarding health and well-being of Transylvanian people and increase knowledge about this currently under-studied region of Eastern Europe. If we can achieve a better understanding of how stress affected migrant and indigenous populations in the past and its drivers on human health, we will be better placed to understand what can be done to help children who are undergoing stress due to emigration away from conflict areas of the world. 

Funding Grants

  • 2018
    • University College Travel Scholarship 
  • 2017
    • University College Travel Scholarship Skene Bursary 
  • 2016
    • IMEMS Small Grant Scheme Award
    • University College Travel Scholarship, Durham University
    • IMEMS PhD Student Bursary, England
    • Rosemary Cramp Fund, Durham University 
    • UKAS Archaeological Science Conference Award
  • 2015
    • University College Employability Scholarship, Durham University
  • 2014
    • Transylvania Bioarchaeology Student Research Grant, England



  • Crowder, et al. 2019. Perceived offset between tooth types, formation rates and the timing of enamel defects in incremental dentine stable isotope profiles. 46th Annual Meeting of the Palaeopathology Association. Clevelend, USA 
  • Crowder, et al. 2018. Integrated macroscopic and isotopic analyses to examine 'stress' in Transylvania, Romania. 87th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA), Austin, USA, April.
  • Crowder and Roberts. 2017 Stress in Transylvania: Utilizing macroscopic skeletal analysis to track metabolic and nutritional stress between Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages in Romania. 86th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA), New Orleans, USA, April.
  • Crowder, K; Montgomery, J; Evans, JA; Gröcke, DR; Ogden, KL. 2016 Macroscopic and isotopic analyses of the Gepid population from the Archiud Cemetery in Transylvania, Romania (4th-7th Cent. AD). 85th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA), Atlanta, USA.
  • Crowder, K; Montgomery, J; Gröcke, DR; Ogden, KL. 2016 Lesions and isotopes: an integrated study of childhood metabolic stress and stable isotope life histories in the Kingdom of the Gepids. 18th Annual BABAO Conference, Kent, UK.
  • Blevins, et al. 2016 The straw that broke their backs: Patterns of spinal trauma in medieval males from the Jucu de Sus Necropolis (Transylvania). 18th Annual BABAO Conference, Kent, UK (British Association of Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology).
  • Tschinkel, et al. 2016 Working land and eating bland: physiological trends in early Slavic migrants from the Jucu de Sus Necropolis (Transylvania, Romania). 43rd Annual Meeting of the Palaeopathology Association, Atlanta, USA.
  • Hunt, et al. 2015 Burials and Bodies: Patterns of treatment, pathology, and demography in the Jucu de Sus Necropolis, Transylvania (5th-12th centuries AD). 17th Annual BABAO Conference, Sheffield, UK

Indicators of Esteem

  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy: Durham University Learning and Teaching Award
  • Bill White Prize: 18th Annual Conference of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology - Student Poster Competition

Research Groups

  • Bioarchaeology Research Group

Selected Publications

Journal Article

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