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Mary Lewis



  • Departmental Director of Teaching and Learning.
  • Lead for Archaeological Science.

Areas of interest

  • Puberty, growth and development in the past
  • Adolescent identity and health
  • Human palaeopathology 
  • Osteology of the life course
  • Urban and industrial health 

Postgraduate supervision

Mary is happy to discuss proposals for postgraduate research in any area of bioarchaeology, but especially palaeopathology and non-adult/ adolescent osteology. For further information, please contact

Mary has supervised students on a variety of topics in bioarchaeology (forensic anthropology, adult ageing and the life course, urbanisation and health, puberty assessment; Roman transitions). She currently supervises the following postgraduate projects:

  • David Bennett-Jones: Can macroscopic examination of skeletal remains, supplemented by radiography, differentiate nutritional vitamin D deficiency from that due to underlying medical conditions?
  • Eleanor Chipps (with Prof Eckardt & Dr Antoine and Vandenbeusch (BM): AHRC CDP Studentship): Children in the afterlife: the mummification and funerary treatment of non-adults in ancient Egypt
  • Jack Eggington (SWW-AHRC student, with Dr Mueldner): Diet, health, and social inequality in industrial England: a mother-infant perspective
  • Paige Falco (International student): Investigating the presences of air pollution in Romano British populations and its impacts on health utilizing palaeopathology and trace element analysis
  • Lily Garnett (with Prof Eckardt, & Dr Brace (NHM), Reading-NHM Studentship): Blood lines: a social, paleopathological and biomolecular examination of the impact of thalassemia in Romano-British Poundbury Camp, Dorset
  • Ellen Green (with Prof Garrow): Dead in a ditch: a taphonomic examination of human and animal remains deposited in non-formal funerary contexts in S E England during the late Iron-Age and early Roman periods.
  • Paul Klostermann ( External, with Prof Eggers, university of Vienna): Adolescence in Early Medieval Austria, A Bioarchaeological Study of Pubertal Timing in Human Remains
  • Tom Mills: (with Prof Lawrence): 'Be Thou Dead to the World, but Alive unto God': defining the diagnosis and evolution of leprosy using the evidence of child and adult skeletal remains.
  • Rebecca Pitt (with Prof Eckardt): Investigating the impact the Roman conquest had on Iron Age people’s health through examining perinatal, infant and maternal health.

Previous graduates include:

  • Florencia Botta (International student, with Dr Mueldner): An evaluation of the impact of famine and plague on childhood stress and adult health in medieval England. Submitted.
  • Sophia Mills: Ageing and the Aged: the social and physical implications of senescence AD 900-1550. Graduated 2023. Sophia is a sessional lecturer in forensic archaeology.
  • Jennifer Austen (International student): Cribra orbitalia, cribra humeralis and cribra femoralis: understanding their aetiology. Graduated 2022.
  • Emily Carroll (SWW DTP Studentship, with Dr Mueldner): No smoke without fire: cremation practices in Late Iron Age and Roman Hertfordshire. Funerary responses to cultural, social and technological transitions. Graduated 2020. Emily is a freelance osteologist.
  • Sasha-Ray Valme (International student): Adolescence and the Age of Puberty in Post-Medieval England. Graduated 2019.
  • Candace McGovern (International student): Coming of Age as a Woman in Roman Britain: physical development and the life course from puberty through adulthood. Graduated 2019.
  • Cecilia Collins (International student): Upper Respiratory Tract Disease in a Medieval Icelandic Population." Graduated 2019.
  • Anna Rohnbogner (AHRC-funded Student, with Professor Eckardt): Dying young: a palaeopathological analysis of child health in Roman Britain. Graduated 2015.
  • Petra Verlinden (Leverhulme Trust-funded student): Child's Play? A new methodology for the identification of trauma in non-adult skeletal remains.Graduated 2015. Petra is a Technical officer at Johnson Matthey
  • Rebecca Watts (AHRC Studentship): Childhood development and adult longevity in archaeological populations from medieval and post-Medieval England (AD 950-1855). Graduated 2014. Rebecca is a Lecturer in Bioarchaeology at UCL.
  • Margaret Andrews (with Dr Gabor Thomas): The palaeopathology of the Romano-British to early Medieval Transition in Southern Britain. Graduated 2014. Margaret is a General Medical Practitioner.
  • Ceri Falys (International student, AHRC Studentship): Extending the Life Course: developing new methods for identifying the elderly in the archaeological record. Graduated 2012. Ceri is the Head Osteoarchaeologist at TVAS, Reading.
  • Justine Tracey (with Professor Richard Bradley): Cultural behaviour or Natural Processes? A review of Southern Britain Iron Age Skeletal Remains. Graduated 2011. Justine works as a civil servant.
  • Maria Jelaca-Tavakoli (International student): A forensic approach to estimation of stature from dimensions of the skeletonised lumbar and sacral spine. Graduated 2008. Maria teaches Anthropology at Southwestern College, California.


Mary teaches the method and theory behind the study of human skeletal remains, osteological techniques, and palaeopathology.

Mary is convenor for:

  • AR1MET: Archaeology today
  • AR2F17: Forensic Archaeology and Crime Scene Science
  • AR3S21: Biological Anthropology 

Mary also teaches on:

  • AR1FOR: Forensic Anthropology and the Archaeology of Death
  • AR2TAH: Archaeology and Heritage
  • AR2SCF2: Changing the face of Earth
  • AR3D1: Dissertation
  • ARMTTA: Theoretical Approaches in Archaeology 

Research projects

Mary specialises in the study of child and adolescent skeletal remains with a particular focus on palaeopathology. Mary's publications include two books: Palaeopathology of Children (Academic Press, 2018) and The Bioarchaeology of Children (CUP, 2007) and she is currently working on a new edition of The Archaeology of Disease (with Charlotte Roberts, Keith Manchester & Jacalyn Duffin).

Her work, and that of her research students, has broadened osteological techniques used to explore aspects of the life course (infancy, childhood, adolescence and old age), including highlighting the importance of research on adolescents in the past, and the development of a new method to identify the stages of puberty in skeletal remains.

In addition to her recent work on puberty and adolescence in the past, Mary’s research has helped to outline the criteria for the diagnosis of leprosy (2002), tuberculosis (2011), thalassaemia (2010) and trauma (2014) in child skeletal remains. @Maryosteokids

Academic qualifications

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • PhD in Bioarchaeology (University of Bradford)
  • MSc Osteology, Palaeopathology and Funerary Archaeology (University of Bradford)
  • BA Archaeology (University of Leicester)

Selected publications

  • Lewis, M. and montgomery, J.(2023) Youth mobility, migration and health before and after the Black Death. Bioarchaeology International, 7(2).pp. 111-129.ISSN: 2472-8349 | doi: hhtps://
  • Lewis ME. 2022. Exploring adolescence as a key life stage in bioarchaeology. American Journal of Biological Anthropology 179(4): 519-534.
  • Dewitte S and Lewis ME. 2021. Medieval menarche: changes in pubertal timing in the aftermath of the Black Death. American Journal of Human Biology 33(2):e23439 Read article
  • Lewis ME. 2016. Work and the adolescent in medieval England AD 900-1550: the osteological evidence. Medieval Archaeology, 60 (1): 138-171Read article
  • Lewis ME., Shapland F. and Watts R. 2016. On the threshold of adulthood: A new approach for the use of maturation indicators to assess puberty in adolescents from medieval England. American Journal of Human Biology, 28 (1): 48-56. Read article
  • Lewis ME, Shapland F, and Watts R. 2015. The influence of chronic conditions and the environment on pubertal development. An example from medieval England. International Journal of Paleopathology 12:1-10 Read article


External responsbilities

Mary is President of the Paleopathology Association (2023-2025) and has held Associate Editor positions for the American Journal of Physical Anthropology (now AJBA) and the International Journal of Paleopathology and has sat on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology. She is Scientific Advisor for STARC, Cyprus.  


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