skip to content

Department of Archaeology


The Duckworth Laboratory, responsible for the curation and study of the Duckworth Collections, houses one of the world's largest repositories of human remains, numbering approximately 18,000 individuals. These range from blood samples, to hair bundles, single bones, complete skeletons, mummies, and decorated skulls, and are widely used for scientific research. The collections also include the skeletal remains of many non-human primate species, casts of fossil hominins and other primates, as well as other examples of human physical variation, such as collections of hairs.

The Duckworth Collection and Laboratory is the result of 200 years of anthropological and biological research into evolution of the human species at Cambridge, with contributions by archaeologists, anthropologists, anatomists and egyptologists. The collections and research facilities are now housed at the Henry Wellcome Building and sit at the heart of its Biological Anthropology research hub. 

With new scientific techniques developed - extracting DNA from bone, usinging 3D imaging to record anatomical variation and study biomechanics, or infering the diet of people in the past from the study of isotopes in their teeth - the Duckworth continues to play a central role in each new phase of research into the biology and behaviour of humans.

Access and Application Procedure

Scientists doing research in human evolution and diversity can apply to become affiliated to the laboratory for the purpose of carrying out particular research projects. Affiliation to the Duckworth Laboratory is granted by the Director of the Duckworth Laboratory.

Researchers applying to access the Duckworth Collection for study are subject to terms and conditions regrading the nature of their research, ethical guidelines set by the Department of Archaeology and payment of bench fees. Students require a letter of endorsement from their supervisor.

Application documents can be downloaded from the Duckworth web pages.

Further conditions apply to requests for destructive sampling.

For further information please contact the Laboratory on and check the notices section below. 


The Duckworth Laboratory is closed during the months of August and September. Email correspondence will be slower than normal during that time. Applications for access to study, scan and/or photograph material in the Duckworth Laboratory in 2019 are generally processed within two weeks. Applicants will usually be informed of the outcome of their application shortly after a decision has been made.

Applications to carry out destructive sampling of material in the Duckworth Laboratory in the 2019-2020 academic year are: 29 October 2019, January 31st 2020, and May 29, 2020.
Applicants will be informed of the timeframe involved in considering their application one month after the deadline.

Contact Us

The Duckworth Laboratory
The Henry Wellcome Building
University of Cambridge
Fitzwilliam Street
Cambridge CB2 1QH