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Durham University

Department of Archaeology


Miss Mocen Li, BA MA

Contact Miss Mocen Li (email at

Personal Statement

I am a human bioarchaeologist, and a third-year PhD candidate in the Department of Archaeology at Durham University, UK. My research focuses on biocultural and contextual approaches to past human health, disease, and well-being, and inherently the interaction of people with their lived environments. Specifically, I consider patterns of disease related to agriculture, urbanism, and the development of social complexity in China to explore human adaptations to sociocultural systems. Multiple lines of evidence are used to contribute to the history of health and disease in China, including bioarchaeology, medical anthropology, evolutionary medicine, and medical history.

Currently, I am writing my PhD thesis according to three paleopathological themes based on 249 skeletons excavated from Shaanxi, China and dated from 2800 BC to 220 AD. The first theme considers the impact of sedentism and urbanism on the presence of infectious diseases, including non-specific inflammatory bone changes, tuberculosis, and leprosy. The second theme looks at frequencies of dietary-related diseases under an agricultural economy; this includes recording data on enamel hypoplasia, dental caries, and vitamin deficiencies. The third theme evaluates the long-term health consequences of sociocultural systems and the history of public health in China. My PhD research will reveal new paleopathological data from a region where few studies have been carried out, as well as contribute to the knowledge of the impact of sociocultural systems on past human health and wellbeing.


  • 2017-2020 PhD Paleopathology, Durham University, UK
  • 2012-2015 MA Physical Anthropology, Jilin University, China
  • 2008-2012 BA Archaeology, Northwest University, China

Grants and Scholarships

  • 2017 Norman Richardson Postgraduate Research Fund, Durham University - £400
  • 2015 Publication Bursary, Jilin University - ¥800
  • 2014 China National Scholarship, Jilin University - ¥20,000
  • 2014 Postgraduate Scholarship, Jilin University - ¥10,000
  • 2013 The Second Prize Scholarship, Jilin University - ¥800
  • 2010 The Second Prize Scholarship, Northwest University - ¥1,000


Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

  • 2017 Zhang, Q., Li, M., Zhang, Q., Sun, Z. (2017). Dental Microwear Analysis and Dietary Reconstruction at Haminmangha, a Neolithic Site in Inner Mongolia, China. Research of China’s Frontier Archaeology 02: 357-366.
  • 2015 Zhang, Q., Wang, W., Li, M. (2015). Ancient human skulls from the Shuangta Site of the East Zhou Period in Baicheng, Jilin. Acta Anthropologica Sinica 01: 75-86.
  • 2013 Zhang, Q., Li, M., Zhu, H. (2013). Ancient human skulls unearthed at the Zhaizita Site in Zhunge’er County, Inner Mongolia. Research of China’s Frontier Archaeology 02: 315-322.

Magazines and Newspapers

  • 2015 Li, M., Zhang, Q., Sun, Z. (2015). Visiting the Centro Nacional de Investigation sobre la Evolucion Humana (CENIEH) in Spain. Popular Archaeology 06: 85-88.
  • 2014 Li, M., Sun, Z., Wang, L., Hu, X. (2014), The Research of Human Skeletons from the Dacaozi Graveyard in Ping’an County, Qinghai. Weekly of Chinese Relics 07-04007.

  • 2014 Li, M., Sun, Z., Zhang, Q. (2014), The Journey of Archaeology in Canada. Popular Archaeology 05: 75-79.

Skeletal Analyses and Reports

  • 2017 Li, M. Human Remains from the Qichexueyuan Excavation. Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology
  • 2014 Li, M. Human Remains from a Han Dynasty cemetery. Qinghai Provincial Institute of Relics and Archaeology
  • 2013 Li, M. Human Remains from the Zhoujiazhuang Prehistoric Cemetery. National Museum of China
  • 2013 Li, M. Human Remains from a cemetery dated to the Spring and Autumn Period. Shanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology
  • 2013 Li, M. Human Remains from the Dacaozi Cemetery. Qinghai Provincial Institute of Relics and Archaeology

Invited Guest Lectures

  • 2018 Northwest University, China. The biocultural and contextual approaches to paleopathological research.
  • 2018 Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, China. The excavation, collection, and analysis of the human remains from archaeological sites.
  • 2017 Jilin University, China. PhD in paleopathology: overseas application and study.
  • 2017 Northwest University, China. Paleopathology: the current theories, methods, and practices.

Teaching Areas

  • 2017/2018: Lab demonstrator for the MSc Palaeopathology module ‘Palaeopathology: Theory and Method’ at Durham University.

Selected Grants

  • 2017: Norman Richardson Postgraduate Research Fund by Ustinov College, Durham University.

Is supervised by