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Department of Archaeology


I am a chemist focussing on biomolecular archaeology and isotopic analysis in archaeological and ecological contexts. I welcome enquiries from researchers who are interested in working with me (please read note below). 



I started academic life as a chemist at the University of Oxford. The lure of applied science led me to archaeology, working with Prof Robert Hedges at the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art in Oxford, firstly for my undergraduate dissertation followed by a SERC/NERC-funded DPhil. I had a Wellcome Trust Post-doctoral Fellowship, then two post-doctoral positions at the RLAHA. I joined the Department in Cambridge in 2004, with a Wellcome Trust University Award, to set up an isotope and palaeodiet laboratory, now called the Dorothy Garrod Laboratory.

I am a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the British Mass Spectrometry Society and the Society of Archaeological Sciences


My research traces signals of diet and climate in human and animal tissues, using isotopic analysis. As well as application to archaeological, ecological and epidemiological case studies, my work focuses on developing our understanding of the underlying principles, so as to improve the resolution of interpretations and conclusions that we can draw from isotopic analyses.

  • Stable isotope analysis 
  • Palaeodiet
  • Palaeoclimate
  • Ecological studies of foodwebs
  • Nutrition and epidemiology
  • Biomolecular analysis of human and animal remains

I am presently involved in the following research projects:

  • After the Plague, a Wellcome-funded multi-disciplinary project on life in Mediaeval Cambridge
  • IsoBank, a multi-organization NSF-funded effort to build a common repository for stable isotope data
  • Subsilience, an ERC project led by Dr Ana Maria Belen, University of Cantabria & Instituto Internacional de Investigaciones Prehistóricas de Cantabria
  • The Portus Project
  • The FRAGSUS Project
  • Two Rains
  • food-web studies in the Antarctic, with Dr Tracey Rogers and the Predator group at the University of New South Wales

Analytical Equipment used

Continuous flow isotope ratio mass spectrometry: Thermo Finnigan Delta V and MAT253 mass specs with various peripherals including EA, TCEA, gas bench and Kiel device.

We carry out our analyses in the Godwin Laboratory in Earth Sciences.



Information for Prospective Postgraduate Students

Before making a speculative approach to me, please think about a few questions:

  1. Why do you want to work with me in particular? I need to be convinced that you are actively interested in working with me, not attracted by the appeal of a degree from Cambridge. Straight “applications” of isotopic analyses to archaeological questions are of less interest to me, and for such work, there needs to be another Cambridge-based supervisor to cover the archaeological dimension.
  2. What will you bring to the isotope group? I like people who can bring unusual skills into isotopic studies, who want to tackle underpinning assumptions and to take new approaches to isotopic data. A strong degree of numeracy, a willingness to do a lot of benchwork and an interest in archaeology/trophic ecology are expectations, not qualifications in themselves.
  3. How will you fund your position? I do not take self-funded students, because of the need to cover research expenses. Please make the effort to look for opportunities. I’m willing to help good applicants to develop proposals and track down funding but the primary motivation needs to come from you. Having independent funding isn’t enough on its own either; see (1.) above.
  4. Why do you want to do a PhD? In case you’re not already aware, most PhD graduates don’t end up working in academia (although fair few of my former students do). A PhD is difficult, intensive - the highest academic qualification for a reason. It brings you no glory, no financial rewards. If you’re aware of all this and still want to embark on this, then it might be for you.


Key publications: 

See Google Scholar 


Selected publications

[1] O'Connell TC (2017) ‘Trophic’ and ‘source’ amino acids in trophic estimation: a likely metabolic explanation. Oecologia 184:317-326. doi: 10.1007/s00442-017-3881-9
[2] O'Connell T.C., Kneale C.J., Tasevska N. and Kuhnle G.G.C. (2012). The diet-body offset in human nitrogen isotopic values: A controlled dietary study. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 149(3), 426-434. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22140.
Other publications: 

Articles & Chapters

1.         Suryanarayan A, Cubas M, Craig OE, Heron CP, Shinde VS, Singh RN, et al. Lipid residues in pottery from the Indus Civilisation in northwest India. J Archaeol Sci. 2021;125. doi: 10.1016/j.jas.2020.105291. PubMed PMID: WOS:000608758200003.

2.         Jones PJ, O'Connell TC, Jones MK, Singh RN, Petrie CA. Crop water status from plant stable carbon isotope values: A test case for monsoonal climates. Holocene. 2021;31(6):993-1004. doi: 10.1177/0959683621994649. PubMed PMID: WOS:000637150200001.

3.         O'Connell TC. Rough Diamond: A Carbon Isotopic Biomarker of Added Sugar Intake. J Nutr. 2020;150(10):2615-6. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxaa237.

4.         Lightfoot E, Ustunkaya MC, Przelomska N, O'Connell TC, Hunt HV, Jones MK, et al. Carbon and nitrogen isotopic variability in foxtail millet (Setaria italica) with watering regime. Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2020;34(6):e8615. doi: 10.1002/rcm.8615.

5.         Lightfoot E, Pomeroy E, Grant J, O'Connell TC, le Roux P, Zakrzewski S, et al. Sea, sickness and cautionary tales: a multi-isotope study from a post-mediaeval hospital at the city-port of Gibraltar (AD 1462-1704). Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences. 2020;12(12). doi: 10.1007/s12520-020-01220-0. PubMed PMID: WOS:000588079600001.

6.         Lightfoot E, Jones PJ, Joglekar PP, Tames-Demauras M, Smith E, Muschinski J, et al. Feeding the herds: Stable isotope analysis of animal diet and its implication for understanding social organisation in the Indus Civilisation, Northwest India. Archaeological Research in Asia. 2020;24:100212. doi:

7.         Jones P, Singh R, Petrie C, O’Connell T, Jones M. Investigating adaptation to climate change in the archaeological record: a conceptual framework and an isotopic approach in the Indus Civilisation. In: Myrdal E, editor. South Asian Archaeology 2014. Delhi: Dev Publishers; 2020. p. 27-41.

8.         Barrett JH, Boessenkool S, Kneale CJ, O’Connell TC, Star B. Ecological globalisation, serial depletion and the medieval trade of walrus rostra. Quat Sci Rev. 2020;229:106122. doi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2019.106122.

9.         Scheib CL, Hui RY, D'Atanasio E, Wohns AW, Inskip SA, Rose A, et al. East Anglian early Neolithic monument burial linked to contemporary Megaliths. Annals of Human Biology. 2019;46(2):145-9. doi: 10.1080/03014460.2019.1623912. PubMed PMID: WOS:000478101900007.

10.      O'Connell TC, Ballantyne RM, Hamilton-Dyer S, Margaritis E, Oxford S, Pantano W, et al. Living and dying at the Portus Romae. Antiquity. 2019;93(369):719-34. doi: 10.15184/aqy.2019.64. PubMed PMID: WOS:000471116200016.

11.      Correia MA, Foley R, O'Connell TC, Ramirez-Rozzi F, Lahr MM. Carbon and nitrogen isotopic signatures of hair, nail, and breath from tropical African human populations. Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2019;33(22):1761-73. doi: 10.1002/rcm.8524. PubMed PMID: WOS:000492727300009.

12.      Scheib CL, Li HJ, Desai T, Link V, Kendall C, Dewar G, et al. Ancient human parallel lineages within North America contributed to a coastal expansion. Science. 2018;360(6392):1024-7. doi: 10.1126/science.aar6851. PubMed PMID: WOS:000433574200044.

13.      Reade H, O'Connell TC, Barker G, Stevens RE. Increased climate seasonality during the late glacial in the Gebel Akhdar, Libya. Quat Sci Rev. 2018;192:225-35. doi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2018.06.003. PubMed PMID: WOS:000438179800015.

14.      Horswill C, Jackson JA, Medeiros R, Nowell RW, Trathan PN, O'Connell TC. Minimising the limitations of using dietary analysis to assess foodweb changes by combining multiple techniques. Ecol Indicat. 2018;94:218-25. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2018.06.035. PubMed PMID: WOS:000452692500021.

15.      Bosch MD, Mannino MA, Prendergast AL, Wesselingh FP, O'Connell TC, Hublin JJ. Year-round shellfish exploitation in the Levant and implications for Upper Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer subsistence. J Archaeol Sci Rep. 2018;21:1198-214. doi: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2017.08.014. PubMed PMID: WOS:000449797000110.

16.      Roffey S, Tucker K, Filipek-Ogden K, Montgomery J, Cameron J, O'Connell T, et al. Investigation of a Medieval Pilgrim Burial Excavated from the Leprosarium of St Mary Magdalen Winchester, UK. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. 2017;11(1). doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0005186. PubMed PMID: WOS:000394152000013.

17.      Prendergast AL, Stevens RE, Hill EA, Hunt CO, O’Connell TC, Barker GW. Carbon isotope signatures from land snail shells: Implications for palaeovegetation reconstruction in the eastern Mediterranean. Quat Int. 2017;432:48-57.

18.      O'Connell TC, Hedges REM. Chicken and Egg: Testing the Carbon Isotopic Effects of Carnivory and Herbivory. Archaeometry. 2017;59(2):302–15. doi: 10.1111/arcm12253.

19.      O'Connell TC, Collins MJ. Comment on “Ecological niche of Neanderthals from Spy Cave revealed by nitrogen isotopes of individual amino acids in collagen.” [ J. Hum. Evol. 93 (2016) 82-90]. J Hum Evol. 2017. doi: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2017.05.006.

20.      O'Connell TC. ‘Trophic’ and ‘source’ amino acids in trophic estimation: a likely metabolic explanation. Oecologia. 2017;184(2):317-26. doi: 10.1007/s00442-017-3881-9.

21.      Hermenegildo T, O'Connell TC, Guapindaia V, Neves E. New evidence for subsistence strategies of late pre-colonial societies of the mouth of the Amazon based on carbon and nitrogen isotopic data. Quat Int. 2017;448:139-49. doi: 10.1016/j.quaint.2017.03.003.

22.      Tafuri MA, Fullagar PD, O'Connell TC, Belcastro MG, Iacumin P, Barbaro CC, et al. Life and Death in Neolithic Southeastern Italy: The Strontium Isotopic Evidence. Int J Osteoarchaeol. 2016;26:1045–57 doi: 10.1002/oa.2516.

23.      Strauss A, Oliveira RE, Villagran XS, Bernardo DV, Salazar-Garcia DC, Bissaro MC, et al. Early Holocene ritual complexity in South America: the archaeological record of Lapa do Santo (east-central Brazil). Antiquity. 2016;90(354):1454-73. doi: 10.15184/aqy.2016.220. PubMed PMID: WOS:000392468800010.

24.      Stevens RE, O'Connell TC. Red deer bone and antler collagen are not isotopically equivalent in carbon and nitrogen. Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2016;30:1969-84. doi: 10.1002/rcm.7670.

25.      Rogers TL, Fung J, Slip D, Steindler L, O'Connell TC. Calibrating the timespan of longitudinal biomarkers in vertebrate tissues when fine-scale growth records are unavailable. Ecosphere. 2016;7(12). doi: 10.1002/ecs2.1449.

26.      Reade H, Stevens RE, O'Connell TC, Barker G. Pleistocene and Holocene herbivore diets and palaeoenvironments in the Gebel Akhdar (Libya): Implications for past human populations. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology. 2016;449:62-78.

27.      Prendergast AL, Stevens RE, O’Connell TC, Fadlalak A, Touati M, al-Mzeine A, et al. Changing patterns of eastern Mediterranean shellfish exploitation in the Late Glacial and Early Holocene: Oxygen isotope evidence from gastropod in Epipaleolithic to Neolithic human occupation layers at the Haua Fteah cave, Libya. Quat Int. 2016;407, Part B:80-93. doi: 10.1016/j.quaint.2015.09.035.

28.      Prendergast AL, Stevens RE, O'Connell TC, Hill EA, Hunt CO, Barker GW. A late Pleistocene refugium in Mediterranean North Africa? Palaeoenvironmental reconstruction from stable isotope analyses of land snail shells (Haua Fteah, Libya). Quat Sci Rev. 2016;139:94-109. doi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.02.014. PubMed PMID: WOS:000374606100008.

29.      Pilaar Birch SE, Miracle PT, Stevens RE, O'Connell TC. Late Pleistocene/early Holocene migratory behavior of ungulates using isotopic analysis of tooth enamel and its effects on forager mobility. PLoS ONE. 2016;11(6).

30.      Phillips CA, O'Connell TC. Fecal carbon and nitrogen isotopic analysis as an indicator of diet in Kanyawara chimpanzees, Kibale National Park, Uganda. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2016;161:685-97 doi: 10.1002/ajpa.23073.

31.      Matuzeviciute GM, Kiryushin YF, Rakhimzhanova SZ, Svyatko S, Tishkin AA, O’Connell TC. Climatic or dietary change? Stable isotope analysis of Neolithic-Bronze Age populations from the Upper Ob and Tobol River basins. Holocene. 2016;26(10):1711-21. doi: 10.1177/0959683616646843.

32.      Lightfoot E, Przelomska N, Craven M, O’Connell TC, He L, Hunt HV, et al. Intraspecific Carbon and Nitrogen Isotopic Variability in Foxtail Millet (Setaria italica). Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2016;30:1475-87.

33.      Lightfoot E, O’Connell TC. On the use of biomineral oxygen isotope data to identify human migrants in the archaeological record: intra-sample variation, statistical methods and geographical considerations. PLoS ONE. 2016;11(4). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0153850.

34.      Horswill C, Matthiopoulos J, Ratcliffe N, Green JA, Trathan PN, McGill RAR, et al. Drivers of intrapopulation variation in resource use in a generalist species, the macaroni penguin. Mar Ecol Prog Ser. 2016;548:233-47.

35.      Charlton S, Alexander M, Collins M, Milner N, Mellars P, O'Connell TC, et al. Finding Britain's last hunter-gatherers: A new biomolecular approach to 'unidentifiable' bone fragments utilising bone collagen. J Archaeol Sci. 2016;73:55-61. doi: 10.1016/j.jas.2016.07.014. PubMed PMID: WOS:000383525300006.

36.      Reade H, Stevens RE, Barker G, O'Connell TC. Tooth enamel sampling strategies for stable isotope analysis: Potential problems in cross-method data comparisons. Chem Geol. 2015;404:126-35. doi: 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2015.03.026. PubMed PMID: WOS:000355556400011.

37.      Reade H, O'Connell TC, Barker G, Stevens RE. Pleistocene and Holocene palaeoclimates in the Gebel Akhdar (Libya) estimated using herbivore tooth enamel oxygen isotope compositions. Quat Int. 2015;404:150-62. doi: 10.1016/j.quaint.2015.10.009.

38.      Prendergast AL, Stevens RE, Barker G, O'Connell TC. Oxygen isotope signatures from land snail (Helix melanostoma) shells and body fluid: Proxies for reconstructing Mediterranean and North African rainfall. Chem Geol. 2015;409:87-98. doi: 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2015.05.014. PubMed PMID: WOS:000358525500009.

39.      Matuzeviciute GM, Lightfoot E, O'Connell TC, Voyakin D, Liu X, Loman V, et al. The extent of cereal cultivation among the Bronze Age to Turkic period societies of Kazakhstan determined using stable isotope analysis of bone collagen. J Archaeol Sci. 2015;59:23-34. doi: 10.1016/j.jas.2015.03.029. PubMed PMID: WOS:000356748000003.

40.      Lightfoot E, Slaus M, Sikanjic PR, O'Connell TC. Metals and millets: Bronze and Iron Age diet in inland and coastal Croatia seen through stable isotope analysis. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences. 2015;7(3):375-86. doi: 10.1007/s12520-014-0194-3. PubMed PMID: WOS:000361596800008.

41.      Lightfoot E, Motuzaite-Matuzeviciute G, O'Connell TC, Kukushkin IA, Loman V, Varfolomeev V, et al. How 'pastoral' is pastoralism? Dietary diversity in Bronze Age communities in the Central Kazakhstan steppes. Archaeometry. 2015;57:232-49. doi: 10.1111/arcm.12123. PubMed PMID: WOS:000357017400014.

42.      Hutchinson WF, Culling M, Orton DC, Hanfling B, Lawson Handley L, Hamilton-Dyer S, et al. The globalization of naval provisioning: ancient DNA and stable isotope analyses of stored cod from the wreck of the Mary Rose, AD 1545. R Soc open sci. 2015;2(9):150199-. doi: 10.1098/rsos.150199. PubMed PMID: MEDLINE:26473047.

43.      Forouhi NG, Kuhnle GGC, Patel PS, O'Connell TC. Stable isotopes, diet, and diabetes incidence Reply. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015;101(3):688-. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.103309. PubMed PMID: WOS:000350538800037.

44.      Cadwallader L, Torres SA, O'Connell TC, Pullen AG, Beresford-Jones DG. Dating the dead: new radiocarbon dates from the Lower Ica Valley, south coast Peru. Radiocarbon. 2015;57(5):765-73. doi: 10.2458/azu_rc.57.18343. PubMed PMID: WOS:000368299000003.

45.      Bosch MD, Mannino MA, Prendergast AL, O'Connell TC, Demarchi B, Taylor SM, et al. Reply to Douka et al.: Critical evaluation of the Ksar 'Akil chronologies. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2015;112(51):E7035-E. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1520412112. PubMed PMID: WOS:000366916000002.

46.      Bosch MD, Mannino MA, Prendergast AL, O'Connell TC, Demarchi B, Taylor SM, et al. New chronology for Ksar 'Akil (Lebanon) supports Levantine route of modern human dispersal into Europe. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2015;112(25):7683-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1501529112. PubMed PMID: WOS:000356731300057.

47.      Pryor AJE, Stevens RE, O'Connell TC, Lister JR. Quantification and propagation of errors when converting vertebrate biomineral oxygen isotope data to temperature for palaeoclimate reconstruction. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol. 2014;412:99-107. doi: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2014.07.003. PubMed PMID: WOS:000342711800008.

48.      Patel PS, Cooper AJM, O'Connell TC, Kuhnle GGC, Kneale CJ, Mulligan AM, et al. Serum carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes as potential biomarkers of dietary intake and their relation with incident type 2 diabetes: the EPIC-Norfolk study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;100(2):708-18. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.068577. PubMed PMID: WOS:000339599100024.

49.      Liu X, Lightfoot E, O'Connell TC, Wang H, Li S, Zhou L, et al. From necessity to choice: dietary revolutions in west China in the second millennium BC. World Archaeol. 2014;46(5):661-80. doi: 10.1080/00438243.2014.953706. PubMed PMID: WOS:000343905100002.

50.      Lightfoot E, Slaus M, O'Connell TC. Water consumption in Iron Age, Roman, and Early Medieval Croatia. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2014;154(4):535-43. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.22544. PubMed PMID: WOS:000339282000007.

51.      Pryor AJE, O'Connell TC, Wojtal P, Krzeminska A, Stevens RE. Investigating climate at the Upper Palaeolithic site of Krakow Spadzista Street (B), Poland, using oxygen isotopes. Quat Int. 2013;294:108-19. doi: 10.1016/j.quaint.2011.09.027. PubMed PMID: WOS:000318379900009.

52.      Prendergast AL, Azzopardi M, O'Connell TC, Hunt CO, Barker G, Stevens RE. Oxygen isotopes from Phorcus (Osilinus) turbinatus shells as a proxy for sea surface temperature in the central Mediterranean: A case study from Malta. Chem Geol. 2013;345:77-86. doi: 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2013.02.026. PubMed PMID: WOS:000319642400006.

53.      Kuhnle GGC, Joosen AMCP, Kneale CJ, O'Connell TC. Carbon and nitrogen isotopic ratios of urine and faeces as novel nutritional biomarkers of meat and fish intake. Eur J Nutr. 2013;52(1):389-95.

54.      O'Connell TC, Kneale CJ, Tasevska N, Kuhnle GGC. The diet-body offset in human nitrogen isotopic values: A controlled dietary study. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2012;149(3):426-34. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.22140. PubMed PMID: WOS:000309922100013.

55.      Liu X, Jones MK, Zhao Z, Liu G, O'Connell TC. The earliest evidence of millet as a staple crop: New light on neolithic foodways in North China. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2012;149(2):283-90. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.22127. PubMed PMID: WOS:000308879100014.

56.      Lightfoot E, Slaus M, O'Connell TC. Changing cultures, changing cuisines: Cultural transitions and dietary change in Iron Age, Roman, and Early Medieval croatia. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2012;148(4):543-56. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.22070. PubMed PMID: WOS:000306310800006.

57.      Hakenbeck S, Geisler H, Grupe G, O'Connell TC. Ernährung und Mobilität im frühmittelalterlichen Bayern anhand einer Analyse stabiler Kohlenstoff und Stickstoffisotope - Studien zu Mobilität und Exogamie. Archäologisches Korrespondenzblatt. 2012;42(2):251-71.

58.      Hakenbeck S, Geisler H, Grupe G, O'Connell TC. Investigating diet and mobility in early medieval Bavaria using stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes - a study of mobility and exogamy. Archaologisches Korrespondenzblatt. 2012;42(2):251-71. PubMed PMID: WOS:000306454500008.

59.      Diaz AL, O'Connell TC, Maher LA, Stock JT. Subsistence and mobility strategies in the Epipalaeolithic: a stable isotope analysis of human and faunal remains at 'Uyun al-Hammam, northern Jordan. J Archaeol Sci. 2012;39(7):1984-92. doi: 10.1016/j.jas.2012.02.034. PubMed PMID: WOS:000305849400008.

60.      Cadwallader L, Beresford-Jones DG, Whaley OQ, O'Connell TC. The signs of maize? A reconsideration of what delta C-13 values say about palaeodiet in the Andean region. Hum Ecol. 2012;40(4):487-509. doi: 10.1007/s10745-012-9509-0. PubMed PMID: WOS:000307252200001.

61.      Bower MA, Campana MG, Nisbet RER, Weller R, Whitten M, Edwards CJ, et al. Truth in the bones: resolving the identity of the founding elite thoroughbred racehorses. Archaeometry. 2012;54:916-25. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-4754.2012.00666.x. PubMed PMID: WOS:000308710100009.

62.      Stevens RE, Balasse M, O'Connell TC. Intra-tooth oxygen isotope variation in a known population of red deer: Implications for past climate and seasonality reconstructions. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol. 2011;301(1-4):64-74. doi: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2010.12.021. PubMed PMID: WOS:000288773500005.

63.      Orton DC, Makowiecki D, de Roo T, Johnstone C, Harland J, Jonsson L, et al. Stable Isotope Evidence for Late Medieval (14th-15th C) Origins of the Eastern Baltic Cod (Gadus morhua) Fishery. PLoS ONE. 2011;6(11). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0027568. PubMed PMID: WOS:000297555400058.

64.      Lightfoot E, Boneva B, Miracle PT, Slaus M, O'Connell TC. Exploring the Mesolithic and Neolithic transition in Croatia through isotopic investigations. Antiquity. 2011;85(327):73-86. PubMed PMID: WOS:000288357000006.

65.      Edwards CJ, Suchard MA, Lemey P, Welch JJ, Barnes I, Fulton TL, et al. Ancient Hybridization and an Irish Origin for the Modern Polar Bear Matriline. Current Biology. 2011;21(15):1251-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.05.058. PubMed PMID: WOS:000293801400016.

66.      Barrett JH, Orton D, Johnstone C, Harland J, Van Neer W, Ervynck A, et al. Interpreting the expansion of sea fishing in medieval Europe using stable isotope analysis of archaeological cod bones. J Archaeol Sci. 2011;38(7):1516-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jas.2011.02.017. PubMed PMID: WOS:000291771000012.

67.      Hakenbeck S, McManus E, Geisler H, Grupe G, O'Connell TC. Diet and mobility in Early Medieval Bavaria: A study of carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2010;143(2):235-49. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.21309. PubMed PMID: WOS:000282293300007.

68.      Crowe F, Sperduti A, O'Connell TC, Craig OE, Kirsanow K, Germoni P, et al. Water-related occupations and diet in two Roman coastal communities (Italy, first to third century AD): correlation between stable carbon and nitrogen isotope values and auricular exostosis prevalence. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2010;142(3):355-66. PubMed PMID: MEDLINE:20014179.

69.      Campana MG, Bower MA, Bailey MJ, Stock F, O'Connell TC, Edwards CJ, et al. A flock of sheep, goats and cattle: ancient DNA analysis reveals complexities of historical parchment manufacture. J Archaeol Sci. 2010;37(6):1317-25. doi: 10.1016/j.jas.2009.12.036. PubMed PMID: WOS:000276764100022.

70.      Brooke MdL, O'Connell TC, Wingate D, Madeiros J, Hilton GM, Ratcliffe N. Potential for rat predation to cause decline of the globally threatened Henderson petrel Pterodroma atrata: evidence from the field, stable isotopes and population modelling. Endangered Species Research. 2010;11(1):47-59. doi: 10.3354/esr00249. PubMed PMID: BCI:BCI201000240323.

71.      Stevens RE, O'Connell TC, Hedges REM, Street M. Radiocarbon and stable isotope investigations at the Central Rhineland sites of Gönnersdorf and Andernach-Martinsberg, Germany. J Hum Evol. 2009;57(2):131-48.

72.      Stevens RE, Germonpre M, Petrie CA, O'Connell TC. Palaeoenvironmental and chronological investigations of the Magdalenian sites of Goyet Cave and Trou de Chaleux (Belgium), via stable isotope and radiocarbon analyses of horse skeletal remains. J Archaeol Sci. 2009;36(3):653-62. doi: 10.1016/j.jas.2008.10.008. PubMed PMID: WOS:000263390100009.

73.      Schroeder H, O'Connell TC, Evans JA, Shuler KA, Hedges REM. Trans-Atlantic slavery: isotopic evidence for forced migration to Barbados. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2009;139(4):547-57. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.21019. PubMed PMID: WOS:000268266200011.

74.      Mulville J, Madgwick R, Stevens RE, O'Connell TC, Craig O, Powell A, et al. Isotopic analysis of faunal material from South Uist, Western Isles, Scotland. Journal of the North Atlantic. 2009;2:51-9. doi: 10.3721/037.002.0106. PubMed PMID: ZOOREC:ZOOR14609063091.

75.      Lucy S, Newman R, Dodwell N, Hills CM, Dekker M, O'Connell TC, et al. The burial of a princess? The later seventh-century cemetery at Westfield Farm, Ely. The Antiquaries Journal. 2009;89(1):81-141. doi: doi:10.1017/S0003581509990102.

76.      Lightfoot E, O'Connell TC, Stevens RE, Hamilton J, Hey G, Hedges REM. An investigation into diet at the site of Yarnton, Oxfordshire, using stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes. Oxford J Archaeol. 2009;28(3):301-22. PubMed PMID: WOS:000268031400006.

77.      Hills CM, O'Connell TC. New light on the Anglo-Saxon succession: two cemeteries and their dates. Antiquity. 2009;83(322):1096-108. PubMed PMID: WOS:000273237100016.

78.      Craig OE, Biazzo M, O'Connell TC, Garnsey P, Martinez-Labarga C, Lelli R, et al. Stable isotopic evidence for diet at the Imperial Roman coastal site of Velia (1st and 2nd Centuries AD) in southern Italy. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2009;139(4):572-83. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.21021. PubMed PMID: WOS:000268266200013.

79.      Hedges REM, Saville A, O'Connell TC. Characterizing the diet of individuals at the Neolithic chambered tomb of Hazleton North, Gloucestershire, England, using stable isotopic analysis. Archaeometry. 2008;50:114–28.

80.      Privat KL, O'Connell TC, Hedges REM. The distinction between freshwater- and terrestrial-based diets: methodological concerns and archaeological applications of sulphur stable isotope analysis. J Archaeol Sci. 2007;34(8):1197-204. PubMed PMID: ISI:000247283300002.

81.      Hedges REM, Clement JG, Thomas CDL, O'Connell TC. Collagen turnover in the adult femoral mid-shaft: Modeled from anthropogenic radiocarbon tracer measurements. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2007;133(2):808-16. PubMed PMID: ISI:000246657300004.

82.      Finucane BC, Valdez JE, Calderon IP, Pomacanchari CV, Valdez LM, O'Connell TC. The end of empire: New radiocarbon dates from the Ayacucho Valley, Peru, and their implications for the collapse of the Wari State. Radiocarbon. 2007;49(2):579-92. PubMed PMID: WOS:000251221300040.

83.      Lewis R, O'Connell TC, Lewis M, Campagna C, Hoelzel AR. Sex-specific foraging strategies and resource partitioning in the southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina). Proc R Soc B. 2006;273:2901-7. doi: DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2006.3642.

84.      Privat KL, O’Connell TC, Neal K, Hedges REM. Fermented dairy product analysis and palaeodietary repercussions: is stable isotope analysis not cheesy enough? In: Mulville J, Outram A, editors. The Archaeology of Animal Fats, Oils and Dairying. Oxford: Oxbow Books; 2005. p. 60-6.

85.      Privat K, Schneeweiß J, Benecke N, Vasil'ev SK, O’Connell TC, Hedges R, et al. Economy and diet at the Late Bronze Age-Iron Age site of Čiča: Artefactual, archaezoological and biochemical analyses. Eurasia Antiqua: Zeitschrift für Archäologie Eurasiens. 2005;11:419-48.

86.      O'Connell TC, Pike AWG. Mass spectrometry: Archaeological Applications. In: Worsfold PJ, Townshend A, Poole CF, editors. Encyclopaedia of Analytical Science. 5. 2nd ed. Oxford: Elseveir; 2005. p. 450-6.

87.      O'Connell T. Hair and Nutrient/diet assessment. In: Tobin DJ, editor. Hair in Toxicology: an important bio-monitor. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry; 2005. p. 175-93.

88.      Fuller BT, Fuller JL, Sage NE, Harris DA, O'Connell TC, Hedges REM. Nitrogen balance and 15N: why you're not what you eat during nutritional stress. Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2005;19(18):2497-506.

89.      Birchall J, O'Connell TC, Heaton THE, Hedges REM. Hydrogen isotope ratios in animal body protein reflect trophic level. J Anim Ecol. 2005;74:877-81.

90.      Shin J-Y, O'Connell TC, Black S, Hedges REM. Differentiating bone osteonal turnover rates by density fractionation: validation using the bomb 14C atmospheric pulse. Radiocarbon. 2004;46:853-61.

91.      Gilbert MTP, Wilson AS, Bunce M, Hansen AJ, Willerslev E, Shapiro B, et al. Ancient mitochondrial DNA from hair. Current Biology. 2004;14(12):R463-R4. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2004.06.008. PubMed PMID: WOS:000222305500007.

92.      Fuller BT, Fuller JL, Sage NE, Harris DA, O'Connell TC, Hedges REM. Nitrogen balance and delta N-15: why you're not what you eat during pregnancy. Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2004;18(23):2889-96. PubMed PMID: ISI:000225489200015.

93.      Williams JH, O'Connell TC. Differential relations between cognition and N-15 isotopic content of hair in elderly people with dementia and controls. Journals of Gerontology Series a-Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences. 2002;57(12):M797-M802. PubMed PMID: ISI:000179813300010.

94.      Privat KL, O'Connell TC, Richards MP. Stable isotope analysis of human and faunal remains from the Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Berinsfield, Oxfordshire: dietary and social implications. J Archaeol Sci. 2002;29:779-90.

95.      O'Connell T, Levine M, Hedges R. The importance of fish in the diet of central Eurasian peoples from the Mesolithic to the Early Iron Age. In: Levine M, Renfrew C, editors.2002.

96.      O'Connell TC, Neal K, Hedges REM, editors. Isolation of urinary urea for natural abundance nitrogen isotopic analysis. SIMSUG (Stable Isotopes Mass Spec Users Group); 2001; Glasgow.

97.      O'Connell TC, Hedges REM. Isolation and isotopic analysis of individual amino acids from archaeological bone collagen: a new method using RP-HPLC. Archaeometry. 2001;43(3):421-38. doi: 10.1111/1475-4754.00025.

98.      O'Connell TC, Healey MA, Hedges REM, Simpson AHW. Isotopic comparison of hair, bone and nail: modern analyses. J Archaeol Sci. 2001;28:1247-55.

99.      Jones AM, O'Connell TC, Young ED, Scott K, Buckingham CM, Iacumin P, et al. Biogeochemical data from well preserved 200 ka collagen and skeletal remains. Earth Planet Sci Lett. 2001;193(1-2):143-9. PubMed PMID: ISI:000172575600013.

100.    O'Connell TC, Hedges REM. Human diet and the isotopic values of hair keratin [Opredelenie ratsiona pitaniya pazyryktsev cpomoshchyu analiza izotopov ygleroda i azota]. In: Derevianko AP, Molodin VI, editors. The Phenomenon of the Altai Mummies [Fenomen Altaiskikh Mumii],. Novosibirsk: Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography; 2000. p. 234-6.

101.    Dickson JH, Oeggl K, Holden TG, Handley LL, O'Connell TC, Preston T. The omnivorous Tyrolean Iceman: colon contents (meat, cereals, pollen, moss and whipworm) and stable isotope analyses. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences. 2000;355(1404):1843-9. PubMed PMID: ISI:000166642300008.

102.    O'Connell TC, Hedges REM. Isotopic comparison of hair and bone: archaeological analyses. J Archaeol Sci. 1999;26:661-5.

103.    O'Connell TC, Hedges REM. Investigations into the effect of diet on modern human hair isotopic values. Am J Phys Anthropol. 1999;108:409-25.

104.    Macko SA, Engel MH, Andrusevich A, Lubec G, O'Connell TC, Hedges REM. Documenting the diet in ancient human poulations through stable isotope analysis of hair. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, London, Series B. 1999;354:65-76.

105.    O'Connell TC, Hedges REM, van Klinken GJ. An improved method for measuring racemization of amino acids from archaeological bone collagen. Ancient Biomolecules. 1997;1:215-20.


Teaching and Supervisions


At undergraduate level, I  contribute to core and optional courses in the Archaeology tripos.

At masters level, I  contribute to core and optional courses in the MSc, including practical projects, covering aspects of archaeological science.

Research supervision: 

I supervise students on a range of topics covering archaeological and ecological applications of isotopic analyses, usually as a co-supervisor with an archaeological or ecological expert.  I am interested in supervising students who wish to study for an MPhil or a PhD in the following topics: nitrogen metabolism, anthropological and epidemiological studies, 'big isotopic data'.

As well as the research students listed below, I supervise Masters and undergraduate projects on a range of bioarchaeological topics.

Current Students:

  • Tiago Hermenegildo
  • Laura Courto
  • Emily Tilby
  • Danny Buss


Past Students:

  • Kate Boulden
  • Lauren Cadwallader
  • Michael Campana
  • Maria Ana Correia
  • Lindsey Friedman
  • Catherine Horswill (British Antarctic Survey) (co-supervisor)
  • Penny Jones
  • Sam Leggett
  • Emma Lightfoot
  • Suzie Pilaar-Birch
  • Amy Prendergast
  • Alexander Pryor
  • Hazel Reade
  • Alice Rose
  • Akshyeta Suryanarayan
  • Nicola Rodgers (Anglia Ruskin University) (co-supervisor)
  • Pre-Cambridge: Karen Privat (Oxford), Rebecca Lewis (Durham)

Other Professional Activities

  • NERC Peer Review College Member: 2020-
  • NERC Environmental Isotope Facility Strategy Group Member: 2020-2024
  • NERC Isotope Geosciences Facility Steering Committee Member: 2016-2020
  • NERC Radiocarbon Facility Steering Committee Member: 2010-2016
  • NERC Services Review Group Committee Member: 2012
  • Regular peer reviewer for grant applications to NERC, AHRC, the Wellcome Trust, Leakey Foundation
  • Associate Editor of the journal Archaeometry (since 2004)
  • Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Member of the British Mass Spectrometry Society
  • Member of the Society of Archaeological Sciences

Job Titles

Head of the Department of Archaeology, Reader in Isotopic Ecology
Fellow of Trinity Hall
Director of Studies, Trinity Hall

General Info

Takes PhD students
Not available for consultancy
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Human Palaeoecology
Biomolecular Archaeology

Contact Details

tco21 [at]
01223 (3)39344


Person keywords: 
Stable Isotope Analysis
Migration and Mobility
The Mediterranean
The Body
Archaeological Science
Science, Technology and Innovation
Environment, Landscapes and Settlement
Material Culture
Rethinking Complexity
Geographical areas: 
South Asia
Periods of interest: 
Classical - Roman
Other Prehistory