Diet, Health and the Life Course Research Cluster

What is DHLC?

We are a group of researchers interested in exploring the interactions between diet and health at different stages of human life history (i.e. the life course), bridging the gap between science and humanities for an inclusive approach to the lived experience and wellbeing. Our interests span the Palaeolithic through to the early modern period. In particular, the group are currently focussed on three areas of research: diet and food as an expression of identity, life history and health (fasting, infant feeding, growth and development), the individual and group experience of illness, disability and mobility (reactions to trauma and treatment, health impacts of migration), and the biology of the life course (birth spacing, puberty, old age).

Who are DHLC?

 HellaEckardt_Rsml Dr Hella Eckardt: Hella's research is about identities in the Roman world, with a particular emphasis on mobility and migration. An inter-disciplinary project on diasporas in the Roman world examined not just origin but also the health and diet of locals and migrants in later Romano-British towns and we continue to work on new cemeteries to explore these questions. Hella has also written on objects associated with the care and presentation of the body and is currently working on the bodily practices of literacy.
robertasml2  Professor Roberta Gilchrist: Roberta's research addresses a wide range of issues in medieval archaeology, particularly gender and religion. Most recently she has been leading a major project on Glastonbury Abbey, following her study of archaeological approaches to the life course in medieval England and earlier work on Norwich Cathedral, monasticism, cemeteries and the material culture of magic. She is beginning a new project on "The Archaeology of Medieval Monastic Medicine and Healing Magic."

Dr Rob Hosfield: Rob's research is focused on early Palaeolithic archaeology, and is currently exploring the life course of Europe's earliest humans, with a particular focus on the strategies and behaviours required by the marked seasonality and the environmental challenges of mid-latitude Europe.

 Associate Professor Mary Lewis Dr Mary Lewis: Mary's osteological and palaeopathological research is concerned with the medieval life-course, particularly developing new osteological methods to assess puberty in adolescents and identify trauma in children. Mary has also supervised innovative PhD research aimed at developing new methods to age the very old in cemetery samples. Mary's main interests are in the dynamics of disease in children, with a major project focusing on adolescence, health and migration in medieval England, as well as ongoing work on the medieval skeletons from St. Oswald's Priory, Gloucester.
 gundulasml2 Dr Gundula Müldner: Gundula specialises in stable isotope analysis of skeletal remains for the characterisation of human and animal diet and mobility to investigate life histories, identity and standards of living as well as social and economic transitions. Her work has included large scale diachronic studies of human and animal diets (in York or coastal Belgium) as well as investigations into diet, mobility and identity in Roman Britain (e.g. the 'Headless Romans' of York).
 LouiseLoe  Dr Louise Loe: Louise is Head of Burials at Oxford Archaeology where she manages all aspects of developer-led burial archaeology projects. She led the excavation and analysis of WWI mass graves in Fromelles, Northern France as well as the detailed analyses of a Viking age mass grave, discovered on Ridgeway Hill, Weymouth. She has published on methodologies for analysing peri-mortem trauma and human skeletal modification.

PhD students working on DHLC topics

  • Judith Arnett
  • Jennifer Austen 
  • Emily Carroll
  • Jessica Feito
  • Lee Graña Nicolaou
  • Candace McGovern
  • Sophia Mills
  • Charlotte Scull
  • Sascha-Ray Valme

DHLC Research Projects

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