Jessica Hendy



Recent advances in protein mass-spectrometry can potentially offer new insights into the health of enslaved Africans. We know from historical records that slaves suffered from a wide range of diseases mainly due to dietary deficiencies and malnutrition. However, due to the limited medical knowledge at the time and the scant medical attention that the slaves were given, it is generally very difficult to identify specific diseases and to study their aetiology. The methods developed in York might enable us to do so for the first time. Using material obtained in collaboration with similar EUROTAST projects we will use proteomic methods to identify and study these diseases. 

Recent investigations of dental calculus have demonstrated that this material is a reservoir of biomolecular information. Proteomic analysis of dental calculus allows us access to the oral and respiratory system and the diseases inhabiting these environments. In addition to studies of health, bacteria in dental calculus also give us access to the ancient microbiome and may allow us to study migration and the interaction between people and populations. If successful, our approach will not only allow us to study the health of enslaved Africans in detail, but will open up a whole new chapter in the molecular study of ancient disease.


Research Interests


Disease evolution

Colonial Archaeology

Indigenous Archaeology 



Bachelor of Arts (Anthropology and Ancient History) – University of Auckland 2006 – 2010

Bachelor of Science (Chemistry) – University of Auckland 2006 – 2010

Bachelor of Arts with Honours (Anthropology) – University of Auckland 2010 – 2011 

Departmental roles

Research Student Representative 


Contact details

Jessica Hendy
Department of Archaeology
University of York
B/S Block, Wentworth Way
YO10 5DD