Project Description

A full project description can be found on Find a PhD. Please see below for additional information about this project:

Potential applicants are urged to contact Prof. Marc Oxenham and discuss details of the project prior to applying.

Essential skills

  • An undergraduate or graduate background in:
    • Osteoarchaeology and/or human anatomy OR
    • Archaeological theory and methods

Desired skills

  • A background in dental anatomy and/or micro-biome analysis of dental calculus.

Photo by Morio Kajiwara on Unsplash.


Marc Oxenham

Primary Supervisor:

Profile: Marc Oxenham
Institution: University of Aberdeen
Department/School: School of Geosciences

Rebecca Crozier

Secondary Supervisor:

Profile: Rebecca Crozier
Institution: University of Aberdeen
Department/School: School of Geosciences

Eileen Murphy

Additional Supervisor:

Profile: Eileen Murphy
Institution: Queen's University, Belfast
Department/School: School of Natural and Built Environment


CPP 2021.

Kinaston, R., Willis, A., Miszkiewicz, J.J., Tromp, M. and Oxenham, M.F., 2019. The Dentition: Development, Disturbances, Disease, Diet, and Chemistry. In Ortner’s Identification of Pathological Conditions in Human Skeletal Remains (pp. 749-797). Academic Press.


The physical remains of people are the most tangible way of engaging with the long and rich story of our past. This project, using a science-based osteoarchaeological approach will provide wholly new insights into the interaction between environment and climate and human resilience with respect to oral health in ancient Scotland and Ireland. Utilising cutting-edge developments in analysing and assessing oral health indicators and oral biome markers this project incorporates new ways to understand ancient population health in early historic Ireland and Scotland. The interplay between environment, climate and oral health will be modelled in a study that utilizes the rich, but understudied collections archived in Irish and Scottish museums and universities. This project will provide new understandings of how northern communities biologically adapted to and were resilient to the vagaries of significant change in climate and environment, technology and economy in the early historic period with the potential for informing current debates on public health/environment interactions.

Proposed Timetable

Year 1
  • Information Security Awareness and Research Data Management training
  • Research Ethics/Governance
  • Equality/Diversity
  • Health/Safety
  • Getting started in each year of your PhD – Year 1
  • Development of writing/publishing
  • Data Management workshops, including tailored statistical interrogation and reasoning
  • Auditing relevant post-graduate courses in order to provide an in-depth understanding of advanced issues in osteoarchaeology
  • Specific training in the identification and interpretation of oral health skeletonised, archaeological material (specific case-study approach)
Expectation: end of first year candidate will be presenting their research methodology at a major osteoarchaeology conference (British Association of Biological Anthropologists and Osteoarchaeologists). This will develop their academic network and raise their researcher profile.
Year 2
  • Getting started in each year of your PhD – Year 2
  • Writing/Publishing workshops
  • Auditing relevant post-graduate courses: develop candidate’s interpretation of their data and develop an archaeological narrative/discourse
  • Conference presentation of results to date
Year 3
  • Getting started in each year of your PhD – Year 3
  • Advanced Writing and Publishing Seminar


  • biodiversity

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