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Dr Susanne Hakenbeck

Dr Susanne Hakenbeck

Lecturer in Historical Archaeology

Fellow of Homerton College

Early medieval Europe

Mortuary studies

Archaeological theory

Stable isotope analysis

Susanne Hakenbeck is accepting applications for PhD students.

Cambridge CB2 3ER
Office Phone: 01223-339292


I was appointed as Lecturer in Historical Archaeology in 2013. Before that I held positions as research fellow at the McDonald Institute, the University of Southampton and Newnham College.

Research Interests

My research focuses on the social transformations that occurred in the centuries before and after the end of the Roman Empire (the third to the eighth centuries AD) and lead to the emergence of medieval polities. The canonical historical narrative of the period is the product of the literate Christian elite, who saw themselves as the inheritors of the Roman world. In my work I aim to provide a counter-discourse to this through critical engagement with the material evidence. I integrate theoretical enquiry with what might be called ‘anthropological’ approaches in archaeology and archaeological science.

I have recently worked on exogamy and marriage practices in central Europe from the fourth to the early sixth centuries AD, highlighting that patterns of mobility that were not widely recorded in written sources could nevertheless be fundamental to society. This was followed by work exploring the interactions of nomadic pastoralists with settled agricultural populations in the Pannonian basin in the fifth century AD. This created a new narrative of life on the frontiers to that told by the written sources, and generated much interest in national and international media.

Currently, I am writing a monograph on the role of the Danube in the formation of new polities in central Europe, following the decline of the Roman Empire. It explores the lived experiences of the people living along the river banks and their relationships with the remaining structures of the Roman Empire. The book is intended as an intervention in a scholarly environment where migrating tribes are still largely seen as the agents of transformation.


I am coordinating the following courses:

Paper ARC6 - Archaeological theory and practice I

Paper ARC27 - Europe in Late Antiquity and the Migration Period

Paper G06 - Medieval Europe: 5th-11th centuries AD

Other Professional Activities

Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries London

On editorial board of Post-Classical Archaeologies and European Journal of Archaeology


  • Material Culture
  • Migration and Mobility
  • Stable Isotope Analysis
  • Mortuary analysis
  • Archaeological Theory

Key Publications


Hakenbeck, S. E. (2018). Infant head shaping in the first millennium AD. Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Childhood. S. Crawford, D. M. Hadley and G. Shepherd. Oxford, Oxford University Press: 483-504.

[2] Hakenbeck, S. E., et al. (2017). Practising pastoralism in an agricultural environment: An isotopic analysis of the impact of the Hunnic incursions on Pannonian populations. PLOS ONE 12(3): e0173079. DOI:


Hakenbeck S.E. (2011). Local, Regional and Ethnic Identities in Early Medieval Cemeteries in Bavaria, (Contributi di Archaeologia Medievale/ Premio Ottone d’Assia e.) Firenze: All’Insegna del Giglio.


Hakenbeck S.E., McManus E., Geisler H., Grupe G. and O'Connell T.C. (2010). Diet and mobility in early medieval Bavaria: A study of carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 143, 235-249. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.21309.


Hakenbeck S.E.(2009). ‘Hunnic’ modified skulls: Physical appearance, identity and the transformative nature of migrations. H. Williams and D. Sayer (eds.), Mortuary Practices and Social Identities in the Middle Ages. Essays in Honour of Heinrich Härke. Exeter: Exeter University Press. 64-80.

Other Publications

Articles & Chapters


Hannah, E. L., T. R. McLaughlin, E. M. Keaveney and S. E. Hakenbeck (2018). Anglo-Saxon diet in the Conversion period: A comparative isotopic study using carbon and nitrogen. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 19: 24-34. DOI: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2018.02.012


Hakenbeck S.(2014). First Migrants: Ancient Migration in Global Perspective. AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST, 116(2), 437-438. DOI: 10.1111/aman.12090_3.


Hakenbeck S.E.(2013). Potentials and limitations of isotope analysis in early medieval archaeology. Postclassical Archaeologies, 3, 109-125.


Hakenbeck S.E.(2013). Correspondence analysis of the cremation urns. C. Hills and S. Lucy (eds.), Spong Hill Part IX: Chronology and Synthesis. McDonald Institute Monographs. 168-195.


Merlo S., Hakenbeck S.E. and Balbo A. (2013). Desert Migrations Project XVIII: The archaeology of the northern Fazzan: a preliminary report. Libyan Studies, 44, 141-161.


Hakenbeck S., Geisler H., Grupe G. and O'Connell T.C. (2012). Investigating diet and mobility in early medieval Bavaria using stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes - A study of mobility and exogamy | Ernährung und mobilität im frühmittelalterlichen bayern anhand einer analyse stabiler kohlenstoff- und stickstoffisotope - Studien zu mobilität und exogamie. Archaologisches Korrespondenzblatt, 42(2), 251-271.


Hakenbeck S.E.(2011). Roman or barbarian? Shifting identities in early medieval cemeteries in Bavaria. Journal of Post-Classical Archaeologies, 1, 37-66.


Hakenbeck S.E.(2008). Migration in archaeology: Are we nearly there yet?. Archaeological Review from Cambridge, 23(2), 9-26.


Merlo S., Hakenbeck S.E. and Balbo A. (2008). DMP IV: 2008 fieldwork on historic settlement in the Wadi ash-Shati and the Dawada lake villages. Libyan Studies, 39, 295-298.


Hakenbeck S.E.(2007). Identitätsbildungsprozesse im Gräberfeld von Altenerding. C. Grünewald and T. Capelle (eds.), Innere Strukturen von Siedlungen und Gräberfeldern als Spiegel gesellschaftlicher Wirklichkeit. Aschendorff Verlag. 89-97.


Hakenbeck S.E.(2007). Situational ethnicity and nested identities: New approaches to an old problem. Anglo-Saxon Studies in Archaeology and History, 14, 21-34.


Hakenbeck S.E.(2004). Ethnic tensions in early medieval cemeteries in Bavaria. Archaeological Review From Cambridge, 19(2), 40-55.