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Dr Paola Ponce
Lecturer in Osteoarchaeology



Paola took her BSc in Biological Anthropology at Universidad Nacional de La Plata (Buenos Aires, Argentina) in 2002 to then receive her MSc in Human Osteology and Palaeopathology at Bradford University in 2004 and her PhD in Palaeopathology at Durham University in 2010 with a Durham Doctoral Fellowship Award.

She worked commercially for Archaeology South-East (University College London) between 2012-2017 carrying out excavation and post-excavation assessment and analysis of human and cremated remains spanning temporarily from Neolithic to post-medieval times.

In 2017 she was appointed as an Associate Lecturer in Osteoarchaeology in the Department of Archaeology at the University of York where she teaches Practical Skills: Human and Animal Bones and contributes to World Archaeology: Settlements and Society, Introduction to Archaeological Sciences, the Archaeology of the Human Skeleton and Skeletal Evidence for Health in the Past.



My current research interests include the study of health and disease in past populations, particularly British, European, and Amerindians from South America, the history of medicine, and funerary archaeology of human remains. Some of the most recent examples include:

  • Paget's disease in medieval Lincoln, Lincolnshire
  • Biomolecular approach to identify smallpox in the archaeological record
  • Cranial trepanations during the Anglo-Saxon period in England
  • Historic archaeology: palaeopathology of Quakers from Southern England
  • Mercury content in skeletons with syphilis from London
  • Isolated and deviant Saxon burials in Southern England
  • Palaeopathology of a Saxon population from Soham, Cambridgeshire
  • History of medicine: cranial dissections and amputations in post-medieval England
  • Hip prosthesis in contemporary skeletal collections from Argentina
  • Paediatric palaeopathology: Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease in post-medieval London
  • Palaeopathology of Neolithic human remains from southern England
  • Activity-related/occupational diseases in native Americans from South America

Available Masters and PhD supervision

I am currently supervising Undergraduate, Masters and PhD dissertations and I am happy to supervise students willing to conduct research on any aspect of the above-mentioned topics and other themes related to osteoarchaeology and palaeopathology of past populations.


  • 2023 Society of Antiquaries of London
  • 2017 Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology
  • 2016 Prehistoric Society's new Collections Study Award
  • 2016 ArtFund: The Jonathan Ruffer Curational Grants Programme
  • 2015 British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (BABAO) Commercial Grant Scheme
  • 2015 The City of London Archaeological Trust (CoLAT)
  • 2009-2006 Durham Doctoral Fellowship Award. PhD research grant


-PhD Thesis Supervised

Aster Wood -2021- current: Before and after: how the societal transition after the fall of the Roman Empire affected the health of British people

-Masters Dissertations Supervised

Year 2023

-The evolution of wisdom teeth: analysing and comparing mandibular third molar eruption and impaction of medieval and modern populations

-Set in stone? the function(s) of 19th-century funerary monuments in York Cemetery

-Investigating pneumonia mortality and socio-economic inequality in York, from 1837 to today, using the York Cemetery Burial Register

-Paget’s disease of bone: a macroscopic and radiographic diagnosis in the early medieval cemetery of the Lincoln Bypass, Lincolnshire

Year 2022

-In memory of: exploring cancer in York, 1837-1927 via York Cemetery’s Burial Register

-The evidence for tumours among the individuals buried at the medieval Abbey of St James’, Northampton

-Unravelling the truth: the origin of artificial mummification in Neolithic Egypt

Year 2020

-Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease: a palaeopathological study of a rare medical phenomenon

-Mapping past parasitism: a regional analysis of paleoparasite distribution and its significance for past populations

Year 2019

-The Brighton Quakers: using stable isotopes to determine diet and health in post-medieval Quakers from Brighton

-Smoking clay pipes and life expectancy: cases from the Queen's Chapel of the Savoy, London

-An investigation of childhood stress at the Anglo-Saxon site Land to the Rear of 23-49 Fordham Road, Soham, Cambridgeshire

-Undergraduate Dissertations Supervised

Year 2022

-A study of septal aperture of Chinchorro people  

-Assessing biological and behavioural theories of sex-based dental caries prevalence through an early Medieval cemetery sample from Lincoln, England

-The archaeological evidence of origin, domestication, trading, consumption, and addiction to opium over time

-A study of skeletal dysplasia in the archaeological record: a focus on achondroplasia

-The synthesis and interpretation of funerary developments and the material culture of the Chinchorro culture

-Social perceptions of disease with a funerary archaeology lens

Year 2021

-Evidence for developmental dysplasia of the hip in the British archaeological

-Health, stress and industrialization: a comparative study of cribra orbitalia in medieval and post-medieval London

-Skeletons in the closet: the ethics of bioarchaeological research on human remains in England

-Wealth and health: a comparative study of dental enamel hypoplasia in contrasting socioeconomic populations from 18th and 19th-century London

Year 2020

-‘Parry’ fractures: useful or misleading evidence for interpersonal violence in osteoarchaeology? 

-Mummification during Egypt’s 18th Dynasty: the science and symbolism behind the natron solution technique

-British plaster burials: Roman mummification at the edge of an empire

-The continuity of life: a comparative analysis between the Chinchorro mummies worship and the contemporary ancestors’ veneration among the Indonesian Toraja culture

-The prevalence of infectious disease in urban post-medieval populations from the 18th to the early 20th century. An in-depth examination of the impact of tuberculosis and syphilis on past populations from York Cemetery, featuring a case study from London

Year 2019

-The anthropological and osteological significance of trepanation: contextualising two case studies from Soham Cambridgeshire

-The evidence of smallpox in the archaeological record: a case from Soham, Cambridgeshire

-A study of congenital abnormalities from the post-medieval cemetery of Queens Chapel of the Savoy, London

-An investigation into the relationship between dental enamel hypoplasia and Harris lines as a cause of stress in sub-adult individuals from St. James's Abbey, Northampton

-A study of childhood stress indicators: investigating the relationship between Harris lines in the ulnae and dental enamel hypoplasia in the Medieval skeletal assemblage of St. James

-Side dominance and handedness using the humerus: a study of upper limb robusticity among the St. James population

-A study of parturition scars: how reliable are they? An analysis of the skeletal assemblage of St. James

-What evidence is there for autoimmune diseases in the archaeological record?

Year 2018

-A study of syphilis in post-medieval Britain: the evidence for mercury treatment and stigma in the archaeological record

-A study of the relationship between Schmorl's nodes and body mass and what this indicates about health and lifestyle

-The Rampion burial. Contextualising a Saxon-Norman period burial from Sussex

-A study of dental health of the female population at the cemetery of St James, Northampton

-Death and the desert: a comparative study of ancient Egyptian and Chinchorro mortuary treatment

-Pigs in blankets. A 21st-century experiment investigating the effects of ancient Chancay, Yemeni and Egyptian embalming techniques on pig's trotters

-The root of the problem. Ante-mortem tooth loss and its underlying pathologies in the adult inhumations at Land to the Rear of California, Baldock, Hertfordshire

-A study on the skeletal assemblage from Malmesbury Abbey and discussion on medieval trauma


Selected publications


  • Anastasiadou K. Silva M. Booth T. Speidel L. Audsley T. Barrington C. Buckberry J. Fernandes D. Ford B. Gibson M. Gilardet A. Glocke I. Keefe K. Kelly M. Masters M. McCabe J. McIntyre L. Ponce P. Rowland S. Ruiz Ventura J. Swali P. Tait F. Walker D. Webb H. Williams M. Witkin A. Holst M. Loe L. Armit I. Schulting R. Skoglund P. (2024) Detection of chromosomal aneuploidy in ancient genomes. Communications Biology 4 (14): 1-9.
  • Chidimuro B. Doherty S. Finch J. Ponce P. Eggington J. Delaney S. Speller C. Collins M. Holst M. Alexander M. (2023) North and South: Exploring isotopic analysis of bone carbonates and collagen to understand post-medieval diets in London and northern England. American Journal of Biological Anthropology 1-17.
  • Joscha Gretzinger, Duncan Sayer, Pierre Justeau, Eveline Altena, Maria Pala, Katharina Dulias, Ceiridwen J. Edwards, Susanne Jodoin, Laura Lacher, Susanna Sabin, Åshild J. Vågene, Wolfgang Haak, Sunna Ebenesersdóttir, Kristjan H. S. Moore, Rita Radzeviciute, Kara Schmidt, Selina Brace, Martina Abenhus Bager, Nick Patterson, Luka Papac, Nasreen Broomandkhoshbacht, Kimberly Callan, Éadaoin Harney, Lora Iliev, Ann Marie Lawson, Megan Michel, Kristin Stewardson, Fatma Zalzala, Nadin Rohland, Stefanie Kappelhoff-Beckmann, Frank Both, Daniel Winger, Daniel Neumann, Lars Saalow, Stefan Krabath, Sophie Beckett, Melanie Van Twest, Neil Faulkner, Chris Read, Tabatha Barton, Joanna Caruth, John Hines, Ben Krause-Kyora, Ursula Warnke, Verena J. Schuenemann, Ian Barnes, Hanna Dahlström, Jane Jark Clausen, Andrew Richardson, Elizabeth Popescu, Natasha Dodwell, Stuart Ladd, Tom Phillips, Richard Mortimer, Faye Sayer, Diana Swales, Allison Stewart, Dominic Powlesland, Robert Kenyon, Lilian Ladle, Christina Peek, Silke Grefen-Peters, Paola Ponce, Robin Daniels, Cecily Spall, Jennifer Woolcock, Andy M. Jones, Amy V. Roberts, Robert Symmons, Anooshka C. Rawden, Alan Cooper, Kirsten I. Bos, Tom Booth, Hannes Schroeder, Mark G. Thomas, Agnar Helgason, Martin B. Richards, David Reich, Johannes Krause & Stephan Schiffels. (2022) The Anglo-Saxon migration and the formation of the early English gene pool. Nature 1-8.
  • Ponce, P. (2022) Object-based learning in higher education: the case of using human skeletal remains in archaeology at the University of York. York Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Journal 5: 43-52.
  • Eggington J. Ponce P. (2022) A study of the relationship between Schmorl’s nodes, body mass, and stature in two archaeological populations. The Post Hole 59: 1-25.
  • Molloy T. Bishop B. Hayward K. Seager-Thomas M. Thompson G. Ponce P. Alott L. Vitolo M. Copeland P. (2021) Bronze Age funerary and later prehistoric activity at Badminston Farm, Fawley, Hampshire. Hampshire Studies 76 (1): 1-34.
  • Shapland M. Ponce P. Sheehan G. Alexander M. Allot L. Barber L. Baldi E. Benedetti-Whitton I. Doherty A. Hart D. Le Hégarat K. Johnson E. Raemen E. (2021) From Quaker burial ground to WW1 hospital: archaeological investigations at the Corn Exchange, Brighton. Sussex Archaeological Collections 159: 173-193.
  • Ramsøe A. van Heekeren V. Ponce P. Fischer R. Barnes I. Speller C. Collins M. (2020) DeamiDATE 1.0: site-specific deamidation as a tool to assess authenticity of members of ancient proteomes. Journal of Archaeological Sciences 115, 105080.
  • Murphy P. Marshall P. Hajdas I. Palstra S. Ponce P. Baker P. Kenny J. Lobb M. (2020) New archaeological recording on the beach at Medmerry, near Selsey, West Sussex. Sussex Archaeological Collections 158: 191-213.
  • Bleasdale M. Ponce P. Radini A. Wilson A. Doherty S. Brown C. Spindler L. Sibun L. Speller C. Alexander M. (2019) Multidisciplinary investigations of the diets of two post-medieval populations from London using stable isotopes and microdebris analysis. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 11: 6161-6181.
  • Sygrave J. Allen A. Barber L. Clifford T. Doherty A. Forsyth H. Le Hégarat K. Mooney D. Ponce P. (2016) Whitehawk Camp. The impact of a modern city’s expansion on a Neolithic causeway enclosure, and a reassessment of the site and its surviving archive. Sussex Archaeological Collections 154: 45-66.
  • Ponce P. Novellino P. (2014) A palaeopathological example of Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease from Argentina. International Journal of Paleopathology 6: 30-33.
  • Ponce P. Ogden A. (2013) Ectopic lower third permanent molar within the mandibular condyle: an archaeological example. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 23: 367-369.
  • Ortner D. Ponce P. Ogden A. Buckberry J. (2012) Multicentric osteosarcoma associated with DISH in a 19th Century burial. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 22: 245-252.
  • Ponce P. (2010) Biosocial aspects of sexual division of labour among prehistoric Chinchorro people. Society, Biology & Human Affairs 75 (1): 41-65.
  • Kothari A. Ponce P. Arriaza B. O’connor-read L. (2009) Osteochondritis dissecans of the knee in a mummy from northern Chile. The Knee 16 (2): 159-160.
  • Ponce P. Sardi M. Pucciarelli H. (2001) Análisis funcional en cráneos deformados del noroeste Argentino. Revista Argentina de Antropología Biológica 3 (2): 94-98.
  • Pucciarelli H. Sardi M. Luis M. Lustig A. Ponce P. Zanini M. Neves W. (1999) Posición de los Araucanos en un contexto Asiático-Europeo. I Metodología Funcional. Revista Argentina de Antropología Biológica 2 (1): 163-186.
  • Luis M. Lustig A. Sardi M. Ponce P. Pucciarelli H. (1999) Posición de los Araucanos en un contexto Asiático-Europeo. II Metodología Howelliana. Revista Argentina de Antropología Biológica 2 (1): 187-200.


  • Sibun, L., Ponce P. (2018) In Life and Death. Archaeological Excavations at the Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy, London. SpoilHeap Monograph N°17.

          BOOK CHAPTER

  • Caffell A. Holst M. Ponce P. (2023) Osteological analysis, Burnby Lane and The Mile. In: Chariots, Swords and Spears: Iron Age Burials at the Foot of the East Yorkshire Wolds. Stephens M. (Ed). Oxbow: 168-191.
  • Ponce P. (2011) South America (coordinator). In: The Routledge Handbook of Archaeological Human Remains and Legislation: an International Guide to Laws and Practice in the Excavation and Treatment of Archaeological Human Remains. Márquez-Grant N., Fibiger L. (Eds). Routledge: 575-576.


  • Margetts A. Douglas C. Adams S. Barber L. Doherty A. Ponce P. (2023) The Pynde: a Reused Late Iron Age/ Early Romano-British Enclosure at Haywards Heath, West Sussex. In: Out of the Weald, The Secret Weald. Margetts A. Doherty A. Douglas C. Nicholls H. Stevens S. (Eds). SpoilHeap Occasional Paper N°14: 125-139.
  • Ponce P. (2019). Late Bronze Age-Early Iron Age Skeletal Remains. In: A View from the Edge. Archaeological Investigation on the Manhood Peninsula, Selsey for the Medmerry Managed Realignment Scheme. Stephenson P. Krawiec K. (Eds) SpoilHeap Monograph N°20: 480-482.


  • Ponce P. (2012) A comparative study of markers of occupational stress in coastal fishers and inland agriculturalists from northern Chile. In: Proceedings of the Twelve Annual Conference of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology. Mitchell P. Buckberry J. (Eds) British Archaeological Reports International Series 2380: 71-85. Oxford: Archaeopress.

  • Ponce P. Ghidini G. Gonzalez-José R. (2008) External auditory exostosis “at the end of the world”. The southernmost evidence according to the latitudinal hypothesis. In: Proceedings of the Eighth Annual Conference of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology. Brickley M., Smith M. (Eds). British Archaeological Reports International Series 1743:101-107. Oxford: Archaeopress.

  • Arabaolaza I. Ponce P. Boylston A. (2007) Skeletal Analysis. In: Out of Darkness, Cometh Light. Life and Death in 19th Century Wolverhampton: excavation of the overflow burial ground of St. Peter’s Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton 2001-2002. Adams J., Colls, K. (Eds.) British Archaeological Reports British Series 442: 39-70. Oxford: Archaeopress.
  • Arabaolaza I. Ponce P. Boylston A. (2007) Industrial accident or deliberate amputation? Three case studies from a Victorian population in Wolverhampton, West Midlands. In: Proceedings of the Seventh Annual Conference of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology. Zakrzewski S., Clegg M., White B. (Eds) British Archaeological Reports International Series 1712: 36-42. Oxford: Archaeopress.


  • Ponce P. Holst M. (2022) Osteological Analysis Mile End Pocklington East Riding of Yorkshire [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]


  • Karen Bernofsky, Francisca Alves Cardoso, Charlotte Henderson, Tina Jakob, Kimberly Plomp, Paola Ponce, Charlotte Roberts, Jennifer Sharman and Rosa Spencer, (2012), PALAEOPATHOLOGY: Studying the Origin, Evolution and Frequency of Disease in Human Remains From Archaeological Sites, in Archaeology, [Eds.UNESCO-EOLSS Joint Commitee], in: Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), Developed under the Auspices of the UNESCO, Eolss Publishers, Oxford, UK []


  • Cansfield D. Maxted A. Ponce P. (2017) The Brighton & Hove Prehistoric Peoples Research Project. The Newsletter of the Prehistoric Society N° 86: 7-9.




Undergraduate Year 2
  • Practical Skills: Human and Animal Bones (Module leader)
  • World Archaeology: Settlements and Society (Contributor)
Undergraduate Year 1
  • Introduction to Archaeological Sciences (Contributor)



  • The Archaeology of the Human Skeleton (Contributor)
  • Skeletal Evidence for Health in the Past (Contributor)

Other teaching

Past teaching 2018-2023

Undergraduate Year 2
  • Practical Skills: Human Bones (Module leader)
  • Team Project: Human Bones (Module leader)
  • World Archaeology I: Mummification (Contributor)

External activities


Member of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (BABAO)

Member of the Paleopathology Association (PPA)

Invited talks and conferences

Outreach activities and public talks

  • 2021: First insights into the population and their health at the Anglo-Saxon cemetery at the Lincoln Bypass. Talk given to the Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology.
  • 2020: The human skeleton and the evidence of disease, surgery, vanity, and fatal trauma. Talk given at The Novium Museum.
  • 2018: An Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Fordham Road, Soham: preliminary results on the human skeletal remains. Talk given to the Cambridge Antiquarian Society.
  • 2017: Family Archaeology Day. Displaying human remains at Brighton Museum.
  • 2017: The application of scientific techniques in commercial archaeology. Talk given to the Brighton & Hove Archaeological Society.
  • 2016: The value of human remains in archaeology. Talk given at Brighton Museum.
  • 2015: The autopsy of the skeleton. Talk given to the Brighton & Hove Archaeological Society.
  • 2015: Whitehawk Camp. Displaying Neolithic human remains at the Brighton Museum.
  • 2014: The Autopsy of bones: sex and dissection. Talk given at The Novium Museum.
  • 2013: Scientific techniques and the study of human remains. Talk given to the Surrey Archaeological Society.
  • 2013: The autopsy of the skeleton. Talk given to the Novium Museum.
  • 2008: The Victorian way of life: a palaeopathological perspective. Talk given to the Bradford Language Centre.

Museum engagement 

2017-2018 collaboration with the Museum of Brighton (East Sussex) in relation to the launch of the Archaeology Gallery at the end of 2018 and the analysis and display of 5 skeletons representing the early inhabitants of the city from the Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Romano-British and Saxon periods.

Media coverage



Contact details

Dr Paola Ponce
Lecturer in Osteoarchaeology
Department of Archaeology, PalaeoHub
University of York
Wentworth Way
YO10 5DD

Tel: 01904 323900