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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 excited by the same sorts of questions as I am, and 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’m keen on 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 minimum 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 quite a number of my former students do). A PhD is difficult, intensive and all-consuming. It is the highest academic qualification for a reason. It will bring you no glory, no financial rewards, and may even make you less employable by the end. If you’re aware of all this and still want to do it 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] Horswill C., Matthiopoulos J., Ratcliffe N., Green J.A., Trathan P.N., McGill R.A.R., Phillips R.A. and O'Connell T.C. (2016). Drivers of intrapopulation variation in resource use in a generalist predator, the macaroni penguin. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 548, 233-247. DOI: 10.3354/meps11626.
[2] Pilaar Birch S.E., Miracle P.T., Stevens R.E. and O'Connell T.C. (2016). Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene Migratory Behavior of Ungulates Using Isotopic Analysis of Tooth Enamel and Its Effects on Forager Mobility.. PLoS One DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0155714.
[3] Prendergast A.L., Stevens R.E., O'Connell T.C., Hill E.A., Hunt C.O. and Barker G.W. (2016). A late Pleistocene refugium in Mediterranean North Africa? Palaeoenvironmental reconstruction from stable isotope analyses of land snail shells (Haua Fteah, Libya). QUATERNARY SCIENCE REVIEWS, 139, 94-109. DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.02.014.
[4] Reade H., O'Connell T.C., Barker G. and Stevens R.E. (2016). Pleistocene and Holocene palaeoclimates in the Gebel Akhdar (Libya) estimated using herbivore tooth enamel oxygen isotope compositions. Quaternary International, 404, 150-162. DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2015.10.009.
[5] Reade H., Stevens R.E., O'Connell T.C. and Barker G. (2016). Pleistocene and Holocene herbivore diets and palaeoenvironments in the Gebel Akhdar (Libya): Implications for past human populations. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 449, 62-78. DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.02.003.
[6] Bosch M.D., Mannino M.A., Prendergast A.L., O'Connell T.C., Demarchi B., Taylor S.M., Niven L., van der Plicht J. and Hublin J.J. (2015). Reply to Douka et al.: Critical evaluation of the Ksâr 'Akil chronologies.. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1520412112.
[7] Bosch M.D., Mannino M.A., Prendergast A.L., O'Connell T.C., Demarchi B., Taylor S.M., Niven L., van der Plicht J. and Hublin J.J. (2015). New chronology for Ksâr 'Akil (Lebanon) supports Levantine route of modern human dispersal into Europe.. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 112(25), 7683-7688. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1501529112.
[8] Cadwallader L., Torres S.A., O Connell T.C., Pullen A.G. and Beresford-Jones D.G. (2015). Dating the dead: New radiocarbon dates from the lower Ica Valley, south coast Peru. Radiocarbon, 57(5), 765-773. DOI: 10.2458/azu_rc.57.18343.
[9] Forouhi N.G., Kuhnle G.G., Patel P.S. and O'Connell T.C. (2015). Reply to KJ Petzke.. Am J Clin Nutr DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.114.103309.
[10] Hutchinson W.F., Culling M., Orton D.C., Hänfling B., Lawson Handley L., Hamilton-Dyer S., O'Connell T.C., Richards M.P. and Barrett J.H. (2015). 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 DOI: 10.1098/rsos.150199.
[11] Lightfoot E., Motuzaite-Matuzeviciute G., O'Connell T.C., Kukushkin I.A., Loman V., Varfolomeev V., Liu X. and Jones M.K. (2015). How 'Pastoral' is Pastoralism? Dietary Diversity in Bronze Age Communities in the Central Kazakhstan Steppes. Archaeometry, 57(S1), 232-249. DOI: 10.1111/arcm.12123.
[12] Lightfoot E., Šlaus M., Šikanjić P.R. and O Connell T.C. (2015). Metals and millets: Bronze and Iron Age diet in inland and coastal Croatia seen through stable isotope analysis. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 7(3), 375-386. DOI: 10.1007/s12520-014-0194-3.
[13] Motuzaite Matuzeviciute G., Lightfoot E., O'Connell T.C., Voyakin D., Liu X., Loman V., Svyatko S., Usmanova E. and Jones M.K. (2015). The extent of cereal cultivation among the Bronze Age to Turkic period societies of Kazakhstan determined using stable isotope analysis ofbone collagen. Journal of Archaeological Science, 59, 23-34. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2015.03.029.
[14] Prendergast A.L., Stevens R.E., Barker G. and O'Connell T.C. (2015). Oxygen isotope signatures from land snail (Helix melanostoma) shells and body fluid: Proxies for reconstructing Mediterranean and North African rainfall. Chemical Geology, 409, 87-98. DOI: 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2015.05.014.
[15] Prendergast A.L., Stevens R.E., O'Connell T.C., Fadlalak A., Touati M., al-Mzeine A., Schöne B.R., Hunt C.O. and Barker G. (2015). 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. Quaternary International, 407, 80-93. DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2015.09.035.
[16] Reade H., Stevens R.E., Barker G. and O'Connell T.C. (2015). Tooth enamel sampling strategies for stable isotope analysis: Potential problems in cross-method data comparisons. Chemical Geology, 404, 126-135. DOI: 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2015.03.026.
[17] Lightfoot E., Slaus M. and O'Connell T.C. (2014). Water consumption in Iron Age, Roman, and Early Medieval Croatia.. Am J Phys Anthropol, 154(4), 535-543. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22544.
[18] Liu X., Lightfoot E., O Connell T.C., Wang H., Li S., Zhou L., Hu Y., Motuzaite-Matuzeviciute G. and Jones M.K. (2014). From necessity to choice: dietary revolutions in west China in the second millennium BC. World Archaeology, 46(5), 661-680. DOI: 10.1080/00438243.2014.953706.
[19] Patel P.S., Cooper A.J., O'Connell T.C., Kuhnle G.G., Kneale C.K., Mulligan A.M., Luben R.N., Brage S., Khaw K.T., Wareham N.J. and Forouhi N.G. (2014). 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, 100(2), 708-718. DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.113.068577.
[20] Pryor A.J.E., Stevens R.E., O'Connell T.C. and Lister J.R. (2014). Quantification and propagation of errors when converting vertebrate biomineral oxygen isotope data to temperature for palaeoclimate reconstruction. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 412, 99-107. DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2014.07.003.
[21] Prendergast A.L., Azzopardi M., O'Connell T.C., Hunt C., Barker G. and Stevens R.E. (2013). Oxygen isotopes from Phorcus (Osilinus) turbinatus shells as a proxy for sea surface temperature in the central Mediterranean: A case study from Malta. Chemical Geology, 345, 77-86. DOI: 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2013.02.026.
[22] Bower M.A., Campana M.G., Nisbet R.E.R., Weller R., Whitten M., Edwards C.J., Stock F., Barrett E., O'Connell T.C., Hill E.W., Wilson A.M., Howe C.J., Barker G. and Binns M. (2012). Truth in the bones: Resolving the identity of the founding elite thoroughbred racehorses. Archaeometry, 54(5), 916-925. DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4754.2012.00666.x.
[23] Diaz A.L., O'Connell T.C., Maher L.A. and Stock J.T. (2012). Subsistence and mobility strategies in the Epipalaeolithic: A stable isotope analysis of human and faunal remains at 'Uyun al-Hammam, northern Jordan. Journal of Archaeological Science, 39(7), 1984-1992. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2012.02.034.
[24] 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.
[25] Kuhnle G.G.C., Joosen A.M.C.P., Kneale C.J. and O'Connell T.C. (2012). Carbon and nitrogen isotopic ratios of urine and faeces as novel nutritional biomarkers of meat and fish intake. European Journal of Nutrition, 52(1), 389-395. DOI: 10.1007/s00394-012-0328-2.
[26] Kuhnle G.G.C., Joosen A.M.C.P., Kneale C.J. and O'Connell T.C. (2012). Erratum to: Carbon and nitrogen isotopic ratios of urine and faeces as novel nutritional biomarkers of meat and fish intake. European Journal of Nutrition DOI: 10.1007/s00394-012-0471-9.
[27] Lightfoot E., Ŝlaus M. and O'Connell T.C. (2012). Changing cultures, changing cuisines: Cultural transitions and dietary change in iron age, roman, and early medieval croatia. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 148(4), 543-556. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22070.
[28] Liu X., Jones M.K., Zhao Z., Liu G. and O'Connell T.C. (2012). The earliest evidence of millet as a staple crop: New light on neolithic foodways in North China. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 149(2), 283-290. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22127.
[29] O'Connell T.C. and Hullb B.D. (2012). Diet: Recent Evidence from Analytical Chemical Techniques. The Oxford Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology. DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199212149.013.0034.
[30] Barrett J.H., Orton D., Johnstone C., Harland J., Van Neer W., Ervynck A., Roberts C., Locker A., Amundsen C., Enghoff I.B., Hamilton-Dyer S., Heinrich D., Hufthammer A.K., Jones A.K.G., Jonsson L., Makowiecki D., Pope P., O'Connell T.C., de Roo T. and Richards M. (2011). Interpreting the expansion of sea fishing in medieval Europe using stable isotope analysis of archaeological cod bones. Journal of Archaeological Science, 38(7), 1516-1524. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2011.02.017.
[31] Edwards C.J., Suchard M.A., Lemey P., Welch J.J., Barnes I., Fulton T.L., Barnett R., O'Connell T.C., Coxon P., Monaghan N., Valdiosera C.E., Lorenzen E.D., Willerslev E., Baryshnikov G.F., Rambaut A., Thomas M.G., Bradley D.G. and Shapiro B. (2011). Ancient hybridization and an Irish origin for the modern polar bear matriline. Curr Biol, 21(15), 1251-1258. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.05.058.
[32] Lightfoot E., Boneva B., Miracle P.T., Šlaus M. and O'Connell T.C. (2011). Exploring the Mesolithic and Neolithic transition in Croatia through isotopic investigations. Antiquity, 85(327), 73-86.
[33] Orton D.C., Makowiecki D., de Roo T., Johnstone C., Harland J., Jonsson L., Heinrich D., Enghoff I.B., Lõugas L., Van Neer W., Ervynck A., Hufthammer A.K., Amundsen C., Jones A.K., Locker A., Hamilton-Dyer S., Pope P., MacKenzie B.R., Richards M., O'Connell T.C. and Barrett J.H. (2011). Stable isotope evidence for late medieval (14th-15th C) origins of the eastern Baltic cod (Gadus morhua) fishery. PLoS One DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0027568.
[34] Pryor A.J.E., O'Connell T.C., Wojtal P., Krzemińska A. and Stevens R.E. (2011). Investigating climate at the Upper Palaeolithic site of Kraków Spadzista Street (B), Poland, using oxygen isotopes. Quaternary International, 294, 108-119. DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2011.09.027.
[35] Stevens R.E., Balasse M. and O'Connell T.C. (2011). Intra-tooth oxygen isotope variation in a known population of red deer: Implications for past climate and seasonality reconstructions. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 301(1-4), 64-74. DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2010.12.021.
[36] Brooke M.D.L., O'Connell T.C., Wingate D., Madeiros J., Hilton G.M. and Ratcliffe N. (2010). 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, 11(1), 47-59. DOI: 10.3354/esr00249.
[37] Campana M.G., Bower M.A., Bailey M.J., Stock F., O'Connell T.C., Edwards C.J., Checkley-Scott C., Knight B., Spencer M. and Howe C.J. (2010). A flock of sheep, goats and cattle: Ancient DNA analysis reveals complexities of historical parchment manufacture. J ARCHAEOL SCI, 37(6), 1317-1325. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2009.12.036.
[38] Crowe F., Sperduti A., O'Connell T.C., Craig O.E., Kirsanow K., Germoni P., Macchiarelli R., Garnsey P. and Bondioli L. (2010). 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, 142(3), 355-366. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.21229.
[39] Hackenbeck S., 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. AM J PHYS ANTHROPOL, 143(2), 235-249. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.21309.
[40] Lightfoot E., Miracle P.T., Radić D., Šlaus M. and O'Connell T.C. (2010). Stable isotope analysis of human diets during the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods at Vela Spila cave, Korčula. Izdanja HADa, 26, 19-25.
[41] Craig O.E., Biazzo M., O'Connell T.C., Garnsey P., Martinez-Labarga C., Lelli R., Salvadei L., Tartaglia G., Nava A., Reno L., Fiammenghi A., Rickards O. and Bondioli L. (2009). Stable isotopic evidence for diet at the Imperial Roman coastal site of Velia (1st and 2nd Centuries AD) in southern Italy. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 139(4), 572-583. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.21021.
[42] Hills C.M. and O'Connell T.C. (2009). New light on the Anglo-Saxon succession: Two cemeteries and their dates. ANTIQUITY, 83(322), 1096-1108.
[43] Lightfoot E., O'Connell T.C., Stevens R.E., Hamilton J., Hey G. and Hedges R.E.M. (2009). An investigation into diet at the site of Yarnton, Oxfordshire, using stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes. OXFORD J ARCHAEOL, 28(3), 301-322. DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0092.2009.00330.x.
[44] Lucy S., Newman R., Dodwell N., Hills C.M., Dekker M., O'Connell T., Riddler I. and Walton Rogers P. (2009). The burial of a princess? The later seventh century cemetery at Westfield Farm Ely. Antiquaries Journal, 89, 81-141. DOI: 10.1017/S0003581509990102.
[45] Schroeder H., O'Connell T.C., Evans J.A., Shuler K.A. and Hedges R.E. (2009). Trans-Atlantic slavery: Isotopic evidence for forced migration to Barbados. Am J Phys Anthropol, 139(4), 547-557. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.21019.
[46] Stevens R.E., Germonpre M., Petrie C.A. and O'Connell T.C. (2009). 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, 36(3), 653-662. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2008.10.008.
[47] Stevens R.E., O'Connell T.C., Hedges R.E. and Street M. (2009). Radiocarbon and stable isotope investigations at the Central Rhineland sites of Gönnersdorf and Andernach-Martinsberg, Germany. J Hum Evol, 57(2), 131-148. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2009.01.011.
[48] Hedges R.E.M., Saville A. and O'Connell T.C. (2008). Characterizing the diet of individuals at the Neolithic chambered tomb of Hazleton North, Gloucestershire, England, using stable isotopic analysis. Archaeometry, 50, 114-128. DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4754.2007.00379.x.
[49] Finucane B.C., Valdez J.E., Calderon I.P., Pomacanchari C.V., Valdez L.M. and O'Connell T.C. (2007). The end of empire: New radiocarbon dates from the Ayacucho Valley, Peru, and their implications for the collapse of the Wari State. Radiocarbon, 49, 579-592. DOI: 10.2458/azu_js_rc.v.2955.
[50] Hedges R.E., Clement J.G., Thomas C.D. and O'connell T.C. (2007). Collagen turnover in the adult femoral mid-shaft: Modeled from anthropogenic radiocarbon tracer measurements. Am J Phys Anthropol, 133(2), 808-816. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.20598.
[51] Privat K.L., O'Connell T.C. and Hedges R.E.M. (2007). The distinction between freshwater- and terrestrial-based diets: Methodological concerns and archaeological applications of sulphur stable isotope analysis. J ARCHAEOL SCI, 34(8), 1197-1204. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2006.10.008.
[52] Lewis R., O'Connell T.C., Lewis M., Campagna C. and Hoelzel A.R. (2006). Sex-specific foraging strategies and resource partitioning in the southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina). Proc Biol Sci, 273(1603), 2901-2907. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2006.3642.
[53] O'Connell T.C.(2005). Hair and nutrient/diet assessment. D.J. Tobin (ed.), Hair in Toxicology: An Important Bio-Monitor. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry. 175-193.
[54] Birchall J., O'Connell T.C., Heaton T.H.E. and Hedges R.E.M. (2005). Hydrogen isotope ratios in animal body protein reflect trophic level. J ANIM ECOL, 74(5), 877-881. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2005.00979.x.
[55] Fuller B.T., Fuller J.L., Sage N.E., Harris D.A., O'Connell T.C. and Hedges R.E.M. (2005). Nitrogen balance and δ15N: Why you're not what you eat during nutritional stress. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 19(18), 2497-2506. DOI: 10.1002/rcm.2090.
[56] O'Connell T.C. and Pike A.W.G. (2005). Mass spectrometry: Archaeological applications, P.J. Worsfold, A. Townshend and C.F. Poole (eds.), Encyclopaedia of Analytical Science, Vol.5Oxford: Elsevier. 450-456.
[57] Privat K., O'Connell T.C., Neal K. and Hedges R.E.M. (2005). Fermented dairy product analysis and palaeodietary repercussions: Is stable isotope analysis not cheesy enough?. J. Mulville and A. Outram (eds.), The Zooarchaeology of Fats, Oils, Milk and Dairying. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
[58] Privat K., Schneeweiß J., Benecke N., Vasil'ev S.K., O'Connell T., Hedges R. and Craig O. (2005). Economy and diet at the late Bronze Age-Iron Age site of Čiča: Artefactual, archaeozoological and biochemical analyses. Eurasia Antiqua, 11, 419-447.
[59] Fuller B.T., Fuller J.L., Sage N.E., Harris D.A., O'Connell T.C. and Hedges R.E. (2004). Nitrogen balance and delta15N: Why you're not what you eat during pregnancy. Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom, 18(23), 2889-2896. DOI: 10.1002/rcm.1708.
[60] Gilbert M.T.P., Wilson A.S., Bunce M., Hansen A.J., Willersley E., Shapiro B., Higham T.F.G., Richards M.P., O'Connell T.C., Tobin D.J., Janaway R.C. and Cooper A. (2004). Ancient mitochondrial DNA from hair. Current Biology, 14, 463-464. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2004.06.008.
[61] Shin J-Y., Connell T.C.O., Black S. and Hedges R.E.M. (2004). Differentiating bone osteonal turnover rates by density fractionation; Validation using the bomb 14C atmospheric pulse. Radiocarbon, 46, 853-861.
[62] O'Connell T.C., Levine M.A. and Hedges R.E.M. (2003). The importance of fish in the diet of central Eurasian peoples from the Mesolithic to the Early Iron Age. M.A. Levine, A.C. Renfrew and K. Boyle (eds.), Prehistoric Steppe Adaptation and the Horse. (McDonald Institute Monograph.) Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. 253-268.
[63] Privat K.L., O'Connell T.C. and Richards M.P. (2002). Stable isotope analysis of human and faunal remains from the Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Berinsfield, Oxfordshire: Dietary and social implications. J ARCHAEOL SCI, 29(7), 779-790. DOI: 10.1006/jasc.2001.0785.
[64] Williams J.H. and O'Connell T.C. (2002). Differential relations between cognition and 15N isotopic content of hair in elderly people with dementia and controls. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci, 57(12), M797-M802. DOI: 10.1093/gerona/57.12.M797.
[65] Jones A.M., O'Connell T.C., Young E.D., Scott K., Buckingham C.M., Iacumin P. and Brasier M.D. (2001). Biogeochemical data from well preserved 200 ka collagen and skeletal remains. EARTH PLANET SC LETT, 193(1-2), 143-149. DOI: 10.1016/S0012-821X(01)00474-5.
[66] O'Connell T.C. and Hedge R.E.M. (2001). Isolation and isotopic analysis of individual amino acids from archaeological bone collagen: A new method using RP-HPLC. ARCHAEOMETRY, 43, 421-438.
[67] O'Connell T.C., Hedges R.E.M., Healey M.A. and Simpson A.H.R. (2001). Isotopic comparison of hair, nail and bone: Modern analyses. J ARCHAEOL SCI, 28(11), 1247-1255. DOI: 10.1006/jasc.2001.0698.
[68] Dickson J.H., Oeggl K., Holden T.G., Handley L.L., O'Connell T.C. and Preston T. (2000). The omnivorous Tyrolean Iceman: Colon contents (meat, cereals, pollen, moss and whipworm) and stable isotope analyses. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 355(1404), 1843-1849. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2000.0739.
[69] Macko S.A., Engel M.H., Andrusevich V., Lubec G., O'Connell T.C. and Hedges R.E. (1999). Documenting the diet in ancient human populations through stable isotope analysis of hair. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 354(1379), 65-75. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.1999.0360.
[70] O'Connell T.C. and Hedges R.E. (1999). Investigations into the effect of diet on modern human hair isotopic values. Am J Phys Anthropol, 108(4), 409-425. DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-8644(199904)108:4<409::AID-AJPA3>3.0.CO;2-E.
[71] O'Connell T.C. and Hedges R.E.M. (1997). An improved method for measuring racemization of amino acids from archaeological bone. Ancient Biomolecules, 1, 215-220.

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 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:


Past Students:

  • Kate Boulden
  • Lauren Cadwallader
  • Michael Campana
  • Maria Ana Correia
  • Lindsey Friedman
  • Catherine Horswill (British Antarctic Survey) (co-supervisor)
  • Penny Jones
  • Emma Lightfoot
  • Suzie Pilaar-Birch
  • Amy Prendergast
  • Alexander Pryor
  • Hazel Reade
  • 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

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

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