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Staff Profile

Miss Michaela Binder

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Research Topic

Health and diet in ancient Nubia through climate and political change.


The site of Amara West, located on the north bank of the Nile in northern Sudan served as the administrative capital of the province of Upper Nubia during the second half of Egyptian colonial rule (1250-1070BC) over Nubia. Recent fieldwork which was started in 2009 by a team of the British Museum led by Dr. Neal Spencer has shown that contrary to earlier notions, settlement was not given up after the end of New Kingdom occupation but continued for several centuries despite changing political rule and severe climatic deterioration.
Based on palaeopathological and isotopic analysis of the human remains from the cemetery areas at Amara West, the aim of my research is to investigate the health status and dietary habits of the site’s inhabitants and to detect whether the end of colonial rule as well as the climatic changes affecting the area had a significant impact thereon. It is part of a multidisciplinary project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust which will combine results from food residue analysis, artefact studies, geomorphology, archaeozoology, archaeobotany and osteology in order to gain a comprehensive insight into the impact of environmental and political changes on life at Amara West.

Training future specialists - The Amara West Bioarchaeology Field School

The Sudan has one of the richest archaeological records in the world. However, its heritage becomes increasingly under threat due to the construction of roads, dams or large scale irrigation projects. As a consequence, the country is now seeing an increasing number of salvage excavations and accordingly a large body of archaeological material. Since a large proportion of these sites are cemeteries dating to all time periods from as far back as the Palaeolithic period, this also includes large collections of human remains. These provide a unique resource for studying many different aspects of human life in the past in this key region of cultural development and therefore must be recorded and preserved in a way to enable future research.

While the Sudan has an excellent community of practicing archaeologists and a well-functioning antiquities service, the National Cooperation of Antiquities and Museums (NCAM), there are no bioarchaeologists in the country due to the lack of formal training available. Recognising this problem, the British Museum Amara West Research Project has instigated a bioarchaeology field school program, generously funded by the Institute of Bioarchaeology. This program aims at both raising awareness for the importance and research potential of archaeological remains as well as training Sudanese and other colleagues in bioarchaeological field and laboratory methods

For further information, please contact

Research Groups

Department of Archaeology

  • Bioarchaeology Research Group

Research Projects

Department of Archaeology

  • Amara West: Health and Diet in ancient Nubia through climate and political change


Books: authored

  • Krause, H. Litschauer, C., Ranseder, C., Binder, M. & Grossschmidt, K. (2013). Zur Erden bestattet. Sechs vergessene Wiener Friedhoefe. Phoibos Verlag.

Books: sections

  • Binder, M. & Spencer, N. (2014). The bioarchaeology of Amara West in Nubia: Investigating the impacts of political, cultural and environmental change on health and diet. In Regarding the Dead. Fletcher, A., Antoine, D. & Hill, J. D. London: British Museum Press.
  • Binder, M. & Pany, D. (2010). Anthropological Analysis of 26 natural mummies (17th/18th century AD.) from Schloss Albrechtsberg a. d. Pielach, Lower Austria. In archaeoPLUS, Schriften zur Archäologie und Archäometrie der Paris Lodron-Universtiät Salzburg,. Cemper-Kieslich, J., Jan Cemper-Kiesslich, Höck, V., Lang, F., Schaller, K., Traxler, S., Tutsch-Bauer, E., Uhlir, C., Unterwurzacher, M. & Wohlmayr, M. (1): 13-19.
  • Uerpmann, A. Schmidt, J. Niklisch, N. & Binder, M. (2006). Post-Neolithic Human Remains from the Jebel al-Buhais Area. In The Archaeology of Jebel al-Buhais. Uerpmann, H.-P., Uerpmann, M. & Jasim, S. A Germany: Department of Culture and Information, Government of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, Institut für Ur- and Frühgeschichte und Archäologie des Mittelalters Universität Tübingen, Germany, Kerns Verlag. (2): 69-99.


  • Binder, M. (2008). Der Soldatenfriedhof in der Marchettigasse. Wien: Phoibos Verlag.

Journal papers: academic

  • Binder, M. & Roberts, C. (2014). Calcified structures associated with human skeletal remains: possible atherosclerosis affecting the population buried at Amara West, Sudan (1300-800BC). International Journal of Paleopathology
  • Binder, M., Roberts, C., Spencer, N., Antoine, D. & Cartwright, C. (2014). On the Antiquity of Cancer: Evidence for Metastatic Carcinoma in a Young Man from Ancient Nubia (c. 1200BC). PLOS One 9(3): 90924.
  • Binder, M., Penz, M. & Sakl-Oberthaler, S. (2012). The Battle of Aspern 1809 – Archaeological and Bioarchaeological Results. The SHA Newsletter 45(1): 20-22.
  • Binder, M., Spencer, N. & Millet, M. (2011). Cemetery D at Amara West: the Ramesside Period and its aftermath. British Museum Studies in Ancient Egypt and Sudan 16: 47–99.
  • Binder, M. (2011). The 10th-9th century BC – New Evidence from Cemetery C of Amara West. Sudan & Nubia 15: 39-53.
  • Binder, M., Spencer, N. & Millet, M. (2010). Cemetery D at Amara West: The Ramesside Period and its aftermath. Sudan & Nubia 14: 25-44.
  • Tobias, B. Wiltschke-Schrotta, K. & Binder, M. (2010). Das Langobardenzeitliche Gräberfeld von Wien-Mariahilfer Gürtel. Jahrbuch RGZM 57: 279-338.
  • Binder, M. & Krause, H. (2010). Der ehemalige Friedhof zu St. Ulrich in Wien 7 – Gräber aus der Zollergasse 32. Fundort Wien 13.
  • Binder, M. (2007). Paleopathology of an urban military graveyard: Inferences about living conditions of low status soldiers in the late 18th century. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 132 (S44): 75.
  • Binder, M. Uerpmann, A. & Henke, W. (2005). (2005): Enthesiopathien bei früh- und mittelholozänen menschlichen Skelettresten aus dem Wadi Shaw und Burg et-Tuyur (Sudan) - ein humanökologischer Interpretationsversuch. Anthropologie 43(2-3): 283-293.

Journal papers: popular

  • Binder, M. & Sakl-Oberthaler, S. (2012). Discovering Napoleon's Defeated Army. Current World Archaeology 62: 28-32.
  • Binder, M. (2011). Sudan: Außergewöhnliches Amulett gefunden. Antike Welt (2): 6.

Edited works: conference proceedings

  • Binder, M. (2014). Cultural traditions and transitions during the New Kingdom colonial period and its aftermath – Recent discoveries from the cemeteries of Amara West. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference for Nubian Studies, London, UK, Leuven: OLA.