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Lisa MacKenzie

Research project

Occupational Health in the Post-Medieval period: Insights from dental calculus.

My PhD research applies both microscopic analysis and proteomics to dental calculus from Industrial Revolution (1750-1850) Halifax, North Yorkshire in order to determine if occupation and disease states can be observed from debris trapped in mineralized plaque. Medical Anthropology recognizes the need for longitudinal data to understand the interaction of pathogens and socio-environmental conditions, historic urban health experiences are clouded by a lack of specific archaeological, skeletal or historic data  on the (often asymptomatic) transmission of disease and the difficulty in teasing apart the confounding variables of air quality and nutrition. Through the analysis of ancient dental calculus (mineralised plaque) my objectives are to: 1) microscopically identify and quantify inhaled irritants and food debris; 2) identify and quantify infectious disease exposure through proteomics; 3) integrate the data with historical sources to understand disease burdens in urban environments.


I have a BA in Archaeology from Simon Fraser University, British Colombia, Canada. I also have an MSc in Human Osteology and Funerary Archaeology from the University of Sheffield.

I excavated and researched the skeletal collection from Ancient Pronnoi, Kafalonia, Archaic Period Greece (750 - 480 BCE) from 2010 - 2014.

My main focus is dental anthropology but my interests include to a large extent carbohydrate consumption and metabolic disorders, oral and gut microbiomes, food systems and trade in the ancient Mediterranean region. My current research now encompasses malnutrition, occupation and disease morbidity during the English Industrial Revolution in Yorkshire.  

Contact details

Lisa MacKenzie
University of York
BioArCh, Environment Building
Wentworth Way
YO10 5DD

Tel: (44) 1904 328564