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Dr Alexandra Ion

Dr Alexandra Ion

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research

Research Associate Homerton College

McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research
University of Cambridge
Downing Street

Cambridge CB2 3ER


My studies at the Universities of Bucharest (first degree, MA and PhD) and Sheffield (MSc in Human Osteology and Funerary Archaeology), plus a recently completed post-doctoral project and my employment at the Institute of Anthropology ‘Francisc I. Rainer’ of the Romanian Academy (since 2007) have enabled me to develop detailed expertise within the broad topics of osteoarchaeology, Prehistoric archaeology and archaeological theory.  My research has spanned from the analyses of past death-ways, to reflexive accounts focused on the way in which human remains are turned into an object of study and are enacted as part of the osteoarchaeological and anthropological disciplines.


Research Interests

  • Osteoarchaeology
  • Neolithic mortuary practices
  • Archaeological theory
  • European Prehistory
  • History of Anthropological Collections

I am an anthropologist and osteoarchaeologist, interested in the ethics and politics of body research and display. My research focuses on the ways that anthropological and archaeological derived categories have defined mortuary remains in academic scholarship, and the inter-disciplinary study of European Neolithic human remains.  

Between 2014-2015 I have been engaged in a post-doctoral project at the University of Bucharest, trying to understand the way in which the link between archaeology and biology/anatomy was constructed through the concepts of race, functional anatomy and evolution in early 20th century Romanian physical anthropology -the construction of the body as a historical entity. Furthermore, as a member of the

‘Rex nunquam moritur. Comparative Approaches to Political Theologies from the Middle Ages to the Present’ Project (international project financed by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, 2014-2016), I have investigated the symbolic value ascribed to the bodies of European Medieval Kings in contemporary archaeological narratives.

In my present Marie Curie project, DivMeanBody: Divergent Meanings: understanding the postmortem fate of human bodies found in Neolithic settlements from the Balkan area in light of interdisciplinary data, I aim to explore  the construction of  prehistoric bodies and their identities, by studying the post-mortem fate of human remains recovered from Neolithic settlements in the Balkans (between 7th-4th millennia BC). By developing a taphonomic perspective on the formation of these deposits I aim to establish whether these are the results of deliberate acts of deposition or the result of more complex processes. This work will explore concepts of materiality, identity, and agency that are used to model current archaeological perceptions enabling us to break down the current disciplinary dichotomies between the biological body (osteology) and the cultural body (archaeology), in order to better understand how these past communities were dealing with the transition between life and death.



My teaching experience consists in BA level seminars as a teaching assistant at the University of Bucharest (2013-2014), and throughout the years I have been invited to give lectures or seminars on my research interests to students from the Faculty of Sociology, and Faculty of Political Sciences (University of Bucharest), Instytut Archeologii Uniwersytet Kardynała Stefana Wyszyń (Warsaw), Faculty of “Artes Liberales” at the University of Warsaw, and Department of Archaeology, University of Sheffield.


Other Professional Activities

Research Associate Homerton College

Member of the Material Culture Lab

Visibility Representative Postdoc community

Key Publications

Selected Publications

Ion, A. 2017. How interdisciplinary is interdisciplinarity? Revisiting the impact of aDNA research for the archaeology of human remains. Current Swedish Archaeology 25: 177-198. (Open Access)

Ion, A. (2017). And then they were Bodies: Medieval Royalties, from DNA Analysis to a Nation's Identity, in Premodern Rulership and Contemporary Political Power. The King’s Body Never Dies, (eds.) Karolina Mroziewicz, Aleksander Sroczyński, 217-237. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Ion, A. (2016). The body of the martyr. Between an archival exercise and the recovery of his suffering. The need for a recovery of humanity in osteoarchaeology. Archaeological Dialogues 23(2): 158–174. doi: 10.1017/S1380203816000209.



Dobos, C. and Ion, A. (eds.) (2015). Bodies/Matter: narratives of corporeality. Special volume of Martor -The Museum of the Romanian Peasant Anthropology Review- 20. Bucharest: Martor. (Open Access: ).


Articles & Chapters

Ion, A. and Barrett, J.C. (2016). What kind of archaeology do we want? Introduction. Archaeological Dialogues 23(2): 131–132. doi: 10.1017/S1380203816000155.

Ion, A. (2014). The making of historical bodies: sex, race, and type in the beginnings of the Romanian physical anthropology. Studii de Preistorie 11: 229-242.

Ion, A. (2014). Establishing Romanian Anthropology: the foundation of the Institute of Anthropology ‘Francisc I.  Rainer’.Annuaire Roumain d'Anthropologie 51: 21-44.

Ion, A. (2010). Analiza antropologica a scheletelor a patru copii descoperiti in situl neolitic de la Cascioarele-Ostrovel [Anthropological analysis of four skeletons discovered in the Neolithic Cascioarele-Ostrovel site]. Peuce S.N. 8: 27 - 36.

Ion, A., Soficaru, A., Miritoiu, N. (2009). Dismembered human remains from the ‘Neolithic’ Cârcea site (Romania). Studii de Preistorie 6: 47 – 79.


Book reviews:

Ion, A. (2018). Studies in Forensic Biohistory. Anthropological Perspectives. Edited by Christopher M. Stojanowski and William N. Duncan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017. Journal of Contemporary Archaeology (

Ion, A. (2016). Disturbing Bodies. Perspectives on Forensic Anthropology. European Journal of Archaeology 19 (3): 535-538. doi: 10.1080/14619571.2016.1192790.

Ion, A. (2015). Curating Human Remains. Caring for the Dead in the United Kingdom. Buletinul Muzeului Municipiului București 1: 256-258.


See full list of publications, and those available for download on