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Dr Trisha Biers

Dr Trisha Biers

Collections Manager, The Duckworth Laboratory

Osteologist and Paleopathologist

Trisha Biers is available for consultancy.

Henry Wellcome Building
Fitzwilliam Street

Cambridge CB2 1QH


I am the Collections Manager of the Duckworth laboratory in the Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge. Previous 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 as Associate Curator and Repatriation Coordinator (NAGPRA Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) at the San Diego Museum of Man in California.

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. 

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


Research Interests

The human remains collections I have researched and curated span all regions of the globe. My research interests include bioarchaeology of death and burial, paleopathology and diet, mortuary archaeology of the Americas, anthropology & gender, biomolecular archaeology, the Columbian Exchange, and museum studies focusing on human remains, repatriation and indigenous visibility.


Currently, I'm teaching A2 Funerary Archaeology, ARC7 Ethics in Death and Burial, and BAN6 Treatment of the Dead. I've taught at the university level for many years including: Forensic Anthropology at the Univ of Maryland, Death and Burial, epidemic disease, and Andean archaeology at the Univ of Cambridge, Human Ecology at the Univ of Nottingham, and Intro to Cultural Anthropology and Cultures of Latin America at San Diego City College. I am very involved in osteology outreach and have years of experience teaching all age groups about the human skeleton. I have won grants for outreach and have recently published in outreach as well.

Other Professional Activities

I'm currently a member of the following:

  • British Association of Biological Anthropology and Osteology (BABAO)
  • American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA)
  • Society of Anthropology in Community Colleges (SACC)
  • Natural Sciences Collections Association, UK (NatSCA)
  • Society for American Archaeology (SAA)
  • Palaeopathology Association (PPA)
  • Institute of Andean Studies (IAS)



  • Material Culture
  • Stable Isotope Analysis
  • Osteoarchaeology
  • Mortuary analysis
  • The Body
  • bioarchaeology
  • skeletal biology


  • Evolutionary medicine
  • Archaeological Science
  • Skeletal biomechanics
  • History and philosophy of science
  • Health and disease
  • Human adaptation and skeletal variation
  • Heritage
  • Developmental origins of Health and Disease
  • Human osteology

Key Publications

under review-

Biers, T. Displaying the Dead: Rethinking purpose, protocol, and popularity in displaying the dead in museums. In Ethical Challenges in the Analysis of Human Remains by Elsevier’s Global Publishing Committee, planned for publication in 2018

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.

2017 September. Ulguim, P. F. Henderson, C. Y. Biers, T. British Association of Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology Digital Osteology Guideline: Sharing Digital Imagery of Human Remains.

2017 February.   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 November. 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.

2015. Report and appendix; isotopic analysis of wood cellulose for object ‘D 1914.34’, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA), University of Cambridge. Collaborator on forthcoming title (2016) 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 and appendix; the isotopic analysis of dental and bone tissues for Professor Alana Cordy-Collins, University of San Diego, USA. To be published in upcoming book by Cordy-Collins and C.S. Merbs, Academic Press 2017.

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.

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

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