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Mary Lewis

  • Head of Archaeological Science
  • Programme Director for MSc Professional Human Osteoarchaeology.

Areas of interest

  • Puberty in the past
  • Adolescent health
  • Child paleopathology
  • Growth and development
  • Osteology of the life course
  • Urban and industrial health in the past

Postgraduate supervision

Mary is happy to discuss proposals for postgraduate research in any area of bioarchaeology, but especially palaeopathology and non-adult 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:

  • Florencia Botta (International student, with Dr Muldner): An evaluation of the impact of famine and plague on childhood stress and adult health in medieval England.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Jack Eggington (SWW-AHRC student, with Dr Muldner): Diet, health, and social inequality in industrial England: a mother-infant perspective
  • 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.
  • Allison Legge (with Dr Muldner): Health inequality in post medieval England – the intersectionality of sex, social status and respiratory disease.
  • Tom Mills: '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.
  • Jennifer Austen (International student): Cribra orbitalia, cribra humeralis and cribra femoralis: understanding their aetiology.
  • Sophia Mills: Ageing and the Aged: the social and physical implications of senescence AD 900-1550. Submitted 2022

Previous graduates include:

  • Emily Carroll (SWW DTP Studentship, with Dr Muldner): 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 at undergraduate and master's level.

She is convenor for:

  • Bioarchaeology (UG module)
  • In at the Deep End: Professional Human Osteoarchaeology (MSc module)
  • Analysis of Human Remains (MSc module)
  • Palaeopathology of Adults and Children (MSc module).

She also teaches on: Issues and Debates in Bioarchaeology (MSc); Archaeology and Heritage (UG); Changing the Face of the Earth (UG); Forensic Archaeology (UG).

Research projects

Mary specialises in the study of child and adolescent skeletal remains with a particular focus on palaeopathology, and runs the MSc in Professional Human Osteoarchaeology. Mary's publications include two books: Palaeopathology of Children (Academic Press, 2018) and The Bioarchaeology of Children (CUP, 2007).

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 the 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

  • 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 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. Mary was elected as President of the Paleopathology Association in 2022 (term: 2023-2025).