Kathleen Whitaker

Research project

Overview

The Yorkshire Wolds are particularly well known for the outstandingly rich prehistoric record evident through monuments and barrows reflecting the funerary and ritualistic aspects of the past. Despite the fact that many prehistoric human skeletons have been excavated on the Yorkshire Wolds over the last 150 years or so, there is actually very little information on these populations. We are only beginning to get insights into diet and migration through recent isotope studies, but, surprisingly, modern skeletal analysis, which would provide important information on size, age, health and trauma are sadly lacking.

The aim of this thesis is to reconstruct the lifeways of the prehistoric people who were buried on the Yorkshire Wolds from the Neolithic to the Iron Age, and to assess to what degree the data is different to that from other parts of Britain or Europe.

Objectives

1. To evaluate the quality of life and general health of individuals and to examine the patterns and trends both spatially and temporally.
2. To explore evidence of social status through the investigation of variations in diet and health.
3. To examine the evidence for individual or group migration.

These aims and objectives will be explored through several methodologies including macroscopic osteological assessment and the isotopic analysis of strontium, oxygen, carbon and nitrogen.

Profile

I began exploring my interest in archaeology and osteology during my undergraduate years at The University of Western Ontario in Canada, which provided me with an Honours BA in Biological Anthropology in 2004. I continued on with a specialism in osteology and in 2006 received an MSc in Paleopathology from Durham University with a dissertation entitled Tuberculosis in the Past: Should visceral surface rib lesions be in the diagnostic criteria? I am currently in my final year at The University of York pursuing a PhD within the fields of archaeology, osteology and bioarchaeology.

During my university degrees I have also been involved with excavations, post excavations and commercial fieldwork. For two months in 2004 I participated in excavating an early Native coastal site to complete an ecological survey for a construction project involving a proposed tourist centre with Mayer Heritage Inc. in Sarnia, Ontario. Later that summer I volunteered at a dig at a 10th -11th century medieval cemetery site near the city of Poznan with the Slavia Foundation For Polish History And Culture. In 2006 I was employed by Ontario Heritage Trust, in Toronto, Canada, which included post-excavation analysis as well as a short rescue excavation at the Macdonell-Williamson House in Hawksbury, Ontario. More recently, I have worked with Context One Archaeological Services in Somerset, England and analysed a mortuary human skeletal sample from a Roman age cemetery site in Doncaster. Currently I am focused on completing my PhD, which explores the prehistoric human skeletal populations from the Yorkshire Wolds, England. This project has been very beneficial to me, not only with regards to immersing myself in antiquary, academic and commercial excavations but also as a learning experience that has enabled me to train and gain experience in stable isotope analysis and teaching.  

Upon completion of my PhD I will be returning to Canada to live with my husband and will be looking for teaching or research related work within a university setting. I am interested in a range of osteological and bioarchaeological themes including the relationship between diet and quality of life as well as mobility and the movement of funerary practices in prehistory from an osteological and stable isotopic perspective.

Publications

Papers

Whitaker K, N Milner, G Davies, O Craig. 2011 (in prep). Mobility and diet in the Iron Age on the Yorkshire Wolds at Melton. Journal of Archaeological Sciences.

Whitaker K. 2010. Book Review Advances in Human Paleopathology, R Pinhasi and S Mays (eds) 2008. West Sussex, England; John Wiley & Sons.

Whitaker K. 2007. Dental studies and their contribution to our knowledge of lives in the past. European Anthropology Association, EAA web site publication as a result of the Intensive Biological Anthropology Short Course held at Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic July 2007.

Whitaker K. 2007, unpublished. Ault Park BgFr-1: Preliminary osteological report. Held at the Anthropology Lab under Pat Reed, University of Toronto.

Whitaker, Katie. (2005). Anemia Among Past Maya Populations: When Will We Have the Answers? Totem: The University of Western Ontario Journal of Anthropology 13: 13-19.

Presentations
Podium Presentation “The prehistoric sites of Staxton Beacon and Melton on the Yorkshire Wolds, England” Canadian Association of Physical Anthropologists Annual Meeting, Saskatoon, Alberta, Canada, October 2010.

 Podium Presentation “Canon Greenwell and the Yorkshire Wolds: An investigation into the Osteological Collection” IARSS Bradford University, England June, 2010.

 Podium Presentation “Initial Investigations into the Prehistoric Skeletal Collections of Canon Greenwell and J R Mortimer from the Yorkshire Wolds, England” North American Paleopathology Association Meeting, Albuquerque, New Mexico April, 2010.

 Podium Presentation “ The Yorkshire Wolds dwellers: What can we uncover about their prehistoric past?” Senior Common Room Presentation, by invitation. University of York, March 16, 2010

 Poster Presentation “The Yorkshire Wolds: Reliability of the Osteological Analysis” Paleopathology Association North American Meeting, Chicago, Illinios April, 2009.

 Podium Presentation “Macroscopic Indicators of Diet: When they are not Enough” ICREA meeting in Barcelona, Spain March, 2009.

 Podium Presentation “Dental studies and their contribution to our knowledge of lives in the past” European Anthropology Association, Intensive Biological Anthropology Short Course held at Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic July 2007.

 Podium Presentation “Tuberculosis in the past” Canadian Association of Physical Anthropologists Annual Meeting, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada October 2006.

 Podium Presentation “Tuberculosis in the past: Should visceral surface rib lesions be added to the diagnostic criteria?” Paleopathology Association Thirty-Fourth Annual Meeting (North America), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania March 2007.

 Podium Presentation, “Tuberculosis in the past: Should visceral surface rib lesions be added to the diagnostic criteria?” Canadian Association for Physical Anthropologists Annual Conference, Trent University, Ontario October 2006.

 Poster Presentation, "The effects of economic status on the malnutrition of infants and children of the past and present," The Archaeology of Infancy and Childhood Conference, University of Kent, England May 2005.

 Poster Presentation, "Skull Lesions Diagnostics Reconsidered," receiving Honorary Mention by the Society and included in the Proceedings of the Canadian Association for Physical Anthropologists Annual Conference, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario October 2004.


Teaching

Training

Graduate of the Preparing Future Academics Program at the University of York 2009-2010. This is an accredited program worth 20 Masters level postgraduate credits (one third of a PGCAP program), and by extension has resulted in my becoming an Associate of the UK Higher Education Academy (AHEA). The accreditation is predicated on the completion of learning and teaching courses, teacher shadowing, practical experiences with teaching in a variety of situations, a conference paper and the production of a report detailing the learning and teaching process and an extensive reflection of experiences.

Selected Coursework
Learning Styles and Student Learning, Developing Students Academic Writing, Making your Teaching Accessible to All, Assessing Student Work, Maintaining Innovation and Enthusiasm in University Teaching, Effective Lecturing, Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct, Teaching Small Groups, Giving Effective Feedback, Structuring and Designing Courses.

Teaching 
Research Skills – Presentations Seminar (one session, 2nd year undergraduates, 2011).
Themes in Prehistory - Iron Age Seminars (eight sessions, 2nd year undergraduates, 2011).
History and Theory Seminars (Entire course, 1st year undergraduates, 2010).
Death and Burial – Spatial Differentiation Lecture (one session, 2nd year undergraduates, 2010).
Death and Burial – Special Topics in Mesolithic Studies Seminar (one session, 3rd year undergraduates, 2010).
Accessing Archaeology – Study Skills Seminar (one session, 1st year undergraduates, 2009).
Accessing Archaeology – Introduction to Scientific Techniques Seminars (six sessions, 1st year undergraduates, 2009).

Assessment 

Themes in Prehistory – Iron Age 2011, assessed and provided one on one feedback for twenty-eight students for formative reports.
Archaeological Science 2011, assessed and provided one on one feedback for seventeen students for formative and summative article critiques.
History and Theory 2010, assessed and provided one on one feedback to fifteen students for two formative essays and an exam.
Death and Burial 2010, assessed thirty-five formative essays.
Accessing Archaeology 2009, assessed and provided one on one feedback to eighteen students for three formative essays.

Awards

2010 University of York Research Priming Grant for £400.00 towards a conference presentation at the 2010 CAPA.
2010 Europlanet Research Infrastructure and Vjire University, Amsterdam award for £20,000.00 for stable isotope work in relation to my PhD thesis.
2010 University of York Research Priming Grant for £260.00 towards a conference presentation at the 2010 PPA.
2009 University of York Research Priming Grant for £500.00 towards fieldwork at the Natural History Museum, London to analysis part of the Canon Greenwell Collection.
2009 The Prehistoric Society Conference Fund for £230.00 towards a conference presentation at the 2009  PPA.
2008 University of York Research Priming Grant for £450.00 towards a conference presentation at the 2009 PPA.
2005 Durham University Travel Award 2005 for £200.00 in relation to Masters dissertation research and analysis.
Katie Whittaker-MJC

Contact details

First Name Surname
Department of Archaeology
University of York
The King's Manor
York
YO1 7EP

Tel: (44) 1904 433931
Fax: (44) 1904 433902