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Department of Archaeology



I curate the Duckworth laboratory in the Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge. Previous museum positions I have held include Osteologist in the Repatriation Osteology Laboratory, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Education & Outreach Assistant at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge, and Associate Curator and Repatriation Coordinator (NAGPRA Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) at the San Diego Museum of Man in California. I teach in the Department about ethics, repatriation, treatment of the dead, mortuary archaeology, and osteology. I am also a Tutor at the Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge where I teach online courses about the archaeology and anthropology of death and burial. 

My research interests include curation and care of human remains, osteoarchaeology, ethics and the dead, ancient disease, memento mori art and catacombs, and museum studies focusing on displaying death, body modification, and repatriation. I have excavated and curated human remains from all over the world. I recently co-edited the Routledge Handbook of Museums, Heritage and Death.  

I received a PhD in archaeology at the University of Cambridge in October 2013. My dissertation titled, ‘Investigating the Relationship between Labour and Gender, Material Culture, and Identity at an Inka Period Cemetery: a regional analysis of provincial burials from Lima, Peru’ combined human skeletal data, burial deposition, and documentary sources to assess identity of artisans under Inka (AD1400-1532) provincial control.

I am very involved in outreach and public engagement and have done podcasts, TV appearances, and really enjoy working with people of all ages to talk bones!

My technological proficiencies include:

  • Osteological and paleopathological analyses of human and mummified remains, faunal remains
  • Biomolecular Analyses in Archaeology (dental calculus, stable isotope analysis, aDNA)
  • XRF, SEM, X-ray, CT scanning, 3D rendering
  • Computing Systems incl. Osteoware, EMu, FileMaker Pro, IBM SPSS, Adobe Photoshop, Arc-GIS
  • Conservation and preparation of objects for preservation and exhibition



Human osteology

Mummy studies

Ethics in bioarchaeology

Repatriation and decolonisation

Witchcraft and archaeology

Key Publications

Key publications: 

2024 Biers, T and Stringer Clary, K. (Eds). The Routledge Handbook of Museums, Heritage, and Death (1st ed.). Routledge Companion Volume.

2024  Biers, T. Engaging with Death in Museums and Collections. In The Routledge Handbook of Museums, Heritage, and Death (1st ed.). Routledge Companion Volume.

2024  Lombardi, G.P., R. Buitrón, L.T. Clide Valladolid, B. Bravo, S. Arce, E. Torres, S. Guillén, and T. Biers. The Handling of the Remains of the Ancestors in Peru: Realities, Challenges, and Wishes. In The Routledge Handbook of Museums, Heritage, and Death (1st ed.). Routledge Companion Volume.

2024 Silva-Pinto, V., M. Castro, Y. Valenzuela-Sánchez, A. Tonko-Huenucoy, C. Montoya, M. Gálvez, and T. Biers. The Use of CT scan for the Construction of Mummy Replicas for Museography: Social and Ethical Perspectives. In The Routledge Handbook of Museums, Heritage, and Death (1st ed.). Routledge Companion Volume.

2024 Macleod, R., M. Evans, A. Sistiaga, T. Jensen, T. Biers, I. Barnes, M. J. Collins. Chapter 9 Sampling for Ancient Biomolecular Data: DNA, Proteins and Lipids from Specific Archaeological Sample Types. In Field Sampling for Laboratory Analysis in Archaeology. ed. Evi Margaritis, Artemios Oikonomou, Efthymia Nikita,Thilo Rehren. Open Access, The Cyprus Institute.

Biers, T (2023) The archaeology of human bones (3rd edition), Archaeological Journal, 180:2, 186-187, DOI: 10.1080/00665983.2023.2204675

Forthcoming Biers, T., Cock-Carrasco, G.A. Bridging the Gap between Elite and Non-elite: identifying the artisan in the archaeological record. In Technology and the Making of Andean Societies. Vol. 2. Cooperation and power in the organsiation of production. Editor W. Sillar. University College London UCL Press, London.

2020  Biers, T. Rethinking Purpose, Protocol, and Popularity in Displaying the Dead in Museums. In: Squires K., Errickson D., Márquez-Grant N. (eds) Ethical Approaches to Human Remains. A Global Challenge in Bioarchaeology and Forensic Anthropology. Springer. pp 239-263.

2017 Thomas, N.J., Biers, T., Cadwallader, L.C., Nuku, M., and Salmond, A.  The Provenance, date and significance of a Cook-voyage Polynesian sculpture. Antiquity.  Issue 355.

2015 Biers, T. and Harknett, SJ. Separating Artefact from Fiction: using museum education and outreach to increase archaeology’s relevance and impact in society. Archaeological Review from Cambridge. Archaeology: Myths within and without. Vol. 30. 2.

Specialist Publications

2019      Contributor, BABAO Recommendations on the Ethical Issues Surrounding 2D and 3D Digital Imaging of Human Remains. British Association of Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (BABAO).

2016       Report and appendix; isotopic analysis of wood cellulose for object ‘D 1914.34’, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA), University of Cambridge. Collaborator, Artefacts of Encounter: Pacific Voyages and Museums Histories. Edited by N. J. Thomas. University of Otago Press, New Zealand. In association with Dr. Lauren Cadwallader, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research (Cambridge, UK). Funding, Pacific Presences Project, ERC 2013-2018.

2014       Report for the isotopic analysis of human and faunal dental/bone tissues for Project  Early Occupation of Piauí (Brazil).  In collaboration with the Fundação Museu  do Homem Amaricano (Brazil); Unidade de  Arqueologia – Universidade Trás-os-Montes e Alto  Douro (VialReal, Portugal), and the McDonald Institute for  Archaeological Research (Cambridge, UK). Funding, Arqueologia Pre-historica e Arte Rupestre do IPT\UTAD - Erasmus Mundus.

July 2014 Culture Collaboration, Culture Rescue. University of Cambridge Museums Blog, Cambridge, UK

Nov 2013 Day of the Dead. University of Cambridge Museums Blog, Cambridge, UK

2013       Conference Report, BABAO Annual Review 2013, British Association of Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology

2009      Info Packet: The Region of Ica, Peru: Chincha, Palpa, Ica, Pisco. Contributor, translations, and informant interviews for travel guide of the south coast of Peru for post- earthquake support of 2007, published by the South American Explorers Club, Lima, Peru.

May 2002 Footsteps Through Time: 4 Million Years of Human Evolution Exhibition Catalog. Co-editor with T. Heflin, San Diego Museum of Man, National Science Foundation


Teaching and Supervisions


B18 Human Osteology

A13/G22 Repatriation, Decolonisation, Ethics

A2 Death & Burial, Science and the Dead, Human Osteology Practicals

A12 Ethics and the Dead, Burial Treatment in South America, Big Questions in Mortuary Studies

Research supervision: 

PhD Advisor for Elifgul Dogan

PhD Advisor for Leanne Daly

Other Professional Activities

Fellow, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge

​Partner, Cambridge Heritage Research Centre  

Museum Representative, Board of Trustees, British Association of Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology 

Coordinator, BABAO taskforce on the Sale and Trade of Human Remains   

Member, Human Osteoarchaeology Special Interest Group -Chartered Institute for Archaeologists

Co-Founder, MorsMortisMuseum, Exploring Museums, Heritage, and Death

Job Titles

Collections Manager of the Duckworth Laboratory at the Level of Curator
Osteologist and Paleopathologist

General Info

Takes PhD students
Available for consultancy
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Museum Studies
Human Population Genetics
Human Population Biology and Health
Socio-Politics of the Past
Biomolecular Archaeology
Heritage Management
Cultural Heritage

Contact Details

Henry Wellcome Building
Fitzwilliam Street
tmb40 [at]


Person keywords: 
Collections work
Stable Isotope Analysis
Mortuary analysis
The Body
skeletal biology
Archaeological Science
Biological Anthropology
Heritage Studies
Human Evolutionary Studies
Geographical areas: 
Egypt and Sudan
Periods of interest: 
Classical - Roman
Iron Age
Other Historical
Other Late Prehistory