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The Australian National University

Professor Marc Oxenham

BSc BA (Hons) PhD FSA FAHA
Professor of Bioarchaeology
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • Archaeology 2101
  • Archaeological Science 210102
  • Forensic Biology 069901

Research interests

I have research interests in bioarchaeology, archaeology and forensic anthropology. My chief focus centres on understanding ancient human biological responses to major lifeway shifts in Southeast Asia. My work in Japan, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam (in particular) has been funded from a number of sources, with the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange and Australian Research Council providing the bulk of support. A secondary research focus is elucidating the processes, patterning and rate of soft and hard tissue decomposition in a range of media (surface, sub-surface, and aquatic) in order to develop more precise models for estimating human time since death in Australian conditions.

Since coming to the ANU I have directly supervised 26 Honours; 15 Masters; and 7 PhD student completions in the areas of mortuary archaeology, bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology. I have written 35 forensic anthropological and archaeological reports for a range of local and federal government agencies over the past 5 years. In addition, and during the same period, I have volunteered 127 days to the Australian Defence Forces in the capacity of a forensic consultant.

Selected Publications

Hayman J, Oxenham MF. 2016. Human Body decomposition. Amsterdam: Academic Press, Elsevier.

Oxenham MF. 2016. Bioarchaeology of Ancient Vietnam. BAR International Series 2781: Hadrian Books.

Oxenham MF, Buckley H, editors. 2016. The Routledge Handbook of Bioarchaeology in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. London and New York: Routledge.

Behie AM, Oxenham MF, editors. 2015. Taxonomic Tapestries: The Threads of Evolutionary, Behavioural and Conservation Research. Canberra: ANU Press.

Pechenkina K, Oxenham MF, editors. 2013. Bioarchaeology of East Asia: Movement, Contact, Health. University of Florida Press.

Oxenham MF, Matsumura H, Nguyen KDD, editors. 2011. Man Bac: The Excavation of a Neolithic Site in Northern Vietnam. The Biology. Terra Australis 33. Australian National University Press.

Oxenham MF, editor. 2008. Forensic Approaches to Death, Disaster and Abuse. Queensland: Australian Academic Press.

Oxenham MF, Tayles N, editors. 2006. Bioarchaeology of Southeast Asia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Biography

Marc F Oxenham is Professor of Bioarchaeology in the School of Archaeology and Anthropology, The Australian National University, Canberra. He gained his bioanthropological and archaeological training at the Northern Territory University (Charles Darwin University) where he was awarded a PhD in 2001. He has held teaching and research positions at Colorado College, USA, and the ANU. He was president of the Australasian Society of Human Biology (2012-14), an Australian Future Fellow (2013-17), elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 2011 and elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 2016. Since 2009, he has acted as consultant (pro bono) for the Unrecovered War Casualties Unit-Army (Australian Department of Defence) in which capacity he has searched for, recovered and identified defence force personnel from conflicts ranging from WWI to the Vietnam War, in France, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and northern Australia. Over the past two decades he has undertaken archaeological and/or bioanthropological research in Japan, China, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines. His research specialisations include the reconstruction of health from human skeletal and dental remains, mortuary archaeology, and human identification and estimation of the time since death in forensic anthropological contexts. He is best known as a bioarchaeologist, focusing on human biological and socio-cultural adaptation to climate and technological variability/change in Holocene Southeast Asia.

Researcher's projects

 

Origins, Health & Demography of Ancestral Southeast

Asians: 2500 BC to 1000 AD

Shortly after 3,000 BC Southeast Asia experienced an enormous suite of changes, particularly in the key areas of human biology, migration, genetic diversity, demographic expansion, dietary breadth and procurement strategies and changing health profiles. This project expands on my previous research in order to better understand both the underlying processes involved in fuelling these changes as well as assessing their impact, particularly health outcomes, on these ancient communities. This research focuses on a pivotal turning point in human history shared by hundreds of millions of people living in the Southeast Asian region today.

Available student projects

Origins, Health & Demography of Ancestral Southeast

Asians: 2500 BC to 1000 AD

Honours, MA and PhD projects are available in this area, including:

(1) Linear Enamel hypoplasia and physiological stress

(2) Dental calculus and diet

(3) Southeast Asian Palaeopathology

(4) Social and biological constructions of childhood and old age in the past

Forensic Anthropology & Archaeology

Honours, MA and PhD projects are available in this area, including:

(1) Human decomposition

(2) The post-mortem interval

(3) Skeletal trauma

(4) Taphonomy


Current student projects

Doctoral Projects

Cave, Christine. Living with One Foot in the Grave: The Implications of Being Old in Pagan Anglo-Saxon England.

Cameron, Alyce. Quantifying Bone Decomposition in Outdoor Terrestrial Environments.

Clark, Bonnie. Immigration and Integration in Egypt during the Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate Period (c.2050-1550 BCE).

Fitzgerald, Catherine. Modeling Decomposition as a Taphonomic Process.

Gilbert, Felicity. Modelling Decomposition in Aqueous Environments to Determine Time Since Death.

McFadden, Clare. Palaeopathology of Australian Mammals in the Late Pleistocene. 

McFarlane, Nicole. Bone Decomposition in Aquatic Environments.

Mariath, Heloisa. Cephalopelvic Disproportion.

Matthews, Don. Islands of Transition in the Landscape: Open Filipino Metal Age Jar Burial Sites.

Meyer, Juliet. Differential Decomposition Schedules in Simulated Mass Graves.

Ross, Ken. Attitudes and Behaviour towards Old Adults and Sub-Adults: evidence from cemetery sites across the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages on the Southeast Asian Mainland 

Watson, Lindsay. A New and Easily Applicable Method for Determining Age-at-Death in Juvenile Remains from SE Asia using a modified version of Demirjian (1973) to be used in both Forensic and Archaeological contexts.

Masters Projects

Karen Cooke. Microscopic and Quantitative Assessment of Linear Enamel Hypoplasia in a Metal Period Sample from Quy Chu, Northern Vietnam.

Honours Projects

Nick Dempsey. Modelling Blunt Force Trauma Using Sus scrofa Tibiae.

Melandri Vlok. Healing Bones: A Case Study of Healthcare Practice in the Metal Period, Philippines.

 

Past student projects

Doctoral projects

2016. Cairns, Alison. Health in Medieval and Early Modern Norway: A Comparative Analysis of the Impact of Social, Economic and Environmental Change on Skeletal Remains.

2016. Willis, Anna. The Bioarchaeology of An Son and Hòa Diêm: Biosocial Insights into Prehistoric Southern Vietnam.

2015. Wise, Francis. Modernising Bioarchaeological Methods: A Study of Ancient Egyptian Periodontal Health

2013. Hayman, Jarvis. Towards a More Accurate Estimation of the Time Since Death in Human Bodies Found Decomposed in Australian Conditions

2013. Tilley, Lorna. Towards a Bioarchaeology of Care

2012. Huffer, Damien. The Ties That Bind: Population Dynamics, Mobility, and Kinship During the Mid-Holocene in Northern Vietnam

2011. Cougle, Lisa. Dress and Gender in Iron Age Italy

Masters projects

2016. Page, Jacinda. Baring the tooth of the matter: a microscopic examination of physiological health from the dental assemblage of the Con Co Ngua skeletal sample

2015. Page, Ruth. Iron Period Nagsabaran, Philippines: An Osteobiography of an Adult Male.

2014. Howley, Donna. Estimating sex and stature from body dimensions.

2012. Bertrand, Jessica. Taphonomy of Bone Shrinkage Under Controlled Temperature Conditions.

2012. Rachkovsky, Elana. Differentiation of Human Hair by Bodily Location and Race using Confocal Microscopy.

2011. Ackerman, Kim. Race-Specific Bias in facial Recognition: Forensic Identification Applications.

2010. Inada, Mayu. Multivariate Sex Determination of Japanese Mandibles.

2009. Lu, Aggie. Activity Assessed through Analyses of Femoral Cross-Sectional Geometry and Muscle Insertion Morphology in the Iron Age Skeletal Assemblage from Shi San Hang, Taiwan.

2008. Larkin, Zoe. Adding Injury to Insult: Prison Improvised Weapons and Forensic Anthropology.

2008. Treffiletti, Tamara. Fracture Analysis: A comparative study of blunt force trauma in adult and juvenile skulls.

2007. Lewis-Cook, Deirdre Sharee. A re-evaluation of mortuary behaviour at the Aboriginal Burial Site of Broadbeach, Queensland.

2006. Claunch, Laurel. Trauma Analysis in Forensic Anthropology.

2006. Huffer, Damien Garrett. Social Organization at the Neolithic/Bronze Age Boundary in Northern Vietnam: Man Bac Cemetery as a Case Study (Grade: H1).

2006. Roberts, Phillip. Gold Fever; Disease and its Cultural Relationship. A Case Study on Victoria 1850 – 1900.

Honours projects

2015. Clare McFadden. Sex, Parity and Scars.

2015 Henriquez, Alejandra Cares. Quantitative microscopic analysis of systemic LEH in prehistoric Vietnam.

2013. Jensen, Ashlea. Sexual Dimorphism in Melanesian Crania: A quantitative and qualitative analysis.

2012. Church, Emma. Childhood Health at Iron Age Nagsabaran: A Study of the Prevalence, Chronology and Duration of Linear Enamel Hypoplasia.

2012. Planert, Vera. Patterns of the Dead: A Spatial Mortuary Analysis of a Metal Age Jar Burial Site in the Central Philippines.

2009-2010. Cobbold, Emily. The Nature of Health in Bioarchaeological Contexts: Poundbury.

2010. Brackman-Ross, Keri. Influence of Decomposing Tissue on Clothing Fabric Integrity.

2010. Knox, Elizabeth. A Neolithic Assemblage from Callao Cave, Philippines: An Exercise in Taphonomy.

2010. Cave, Christine. Out of the Cradle into the Grave: An Analysis of Mortuary Patterns of the Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Great Chesterford, and What They Say About the Lived Experience of its Children.

2010. Pedersen, Lucille. The Disjuncture Between Dental and Long Bone Age-at-Death Determinations: A Case Study from Man Bac, Vietnam.

2010. McDonell, Amy. The implications of LEH and LHPC Frequencies for Community and Neonate Health in Northern Vietnam at the Neolithic-Bronze Age Boundary.

2009. Shaw, Heidi. 2009. Bio-Mortuary Archaeology of Iron Age Cemetery Sites in Northern Philippines.  

2008-9. Hirst, Roslyn. Manners of grief; the mortuary treatment of infants in a Romano-British Context.

2008. Wright, Michelle. Maxillary sinusitis as an indicator of respiratory health: A comparative analysis between the Okhotsk and Jomon of Japan.

2008. Cameron, Alyce. The effects of scavenging upon pig carcasses within the ACT, Australia.

2008. Drake, Allison. The Cold Screen Hypothesis: An analysis of its validity in preventing the spread of infectious disease from human migration through the Bering Land Strait to the Americas.

2008. Stannard, Georgia. The impacts of differing subsistence economies on palaeohealth within populations from precontact Papua New Guinea.  

2007. Fitzgerald, Catherine. Synchronistic Decomposition in Pigs as a Model for Human Decomposition in Forensic Archaeology.

2007. Watson, L. Reliability of Forensic Attributions of Ancestry: Comparing and Contrasting the Craniometric Computer programs CRANID and FORDISC.

2006-7. Ross, Ken. Evidence of Shared Behaviour across the Neolithic Mortuary Sites of Khok Phanom Di, Ban Kao and Gua Cha.

2006. Bell, Greg. The Heritability of Human Frontal Sinus Patterns and the Implications for Biological Anthropological Study.

2006. Muller, Sarah. An Examination of Health, Stature and Disease in Bronze Age Specimens from Man Bac, Viet Nam.

2006. Wallwork, Chris. An Osteological Investigation into the Looted Iron-Age Remains from Koh Krabas, Northeast Cambodia.

2005. Vrsek, Anique. A Forensic Examination of a Secondary Burial in Zdar Monastery.

2004. Arthur, Claire Susannah. The Role of Archaeology in Forensic Investigations.

 

Publications

Projects and Grants

Grants are drawn from ARIES. To add Projects or Grants please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  24 April 2017 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers