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Professor Andrew Wilson

PositionProfessor (Chair in Forensic & Archaeological Sciences)
LocationJ30, Richmond building
DepartmentSchool of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences
Telephone+44 (0) 1274 235351


Andrew was appointed initially as Research Investment Lecturer (2007), as Lecturer in Forensic & Archaeological Sciences (2010) and as Senior Lecturer in Forensic & Archaeological Sciences (2012). He is Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and holds an academic teaching qualification, PGCert in Higher Education Practice (Bradford - 2011). He was appointed to Corporate Membership (MIfA) of the Institute for Archaeologists (2010) and is a member of the IfA Expert Panel in Forensic Archaeology having undertaken casework since 2001.

Andrew has attracted research funding from the Wellcome Trust, AHRC, EPSRC, Jisc and HEIF. He co-directs the RKT hub ‘Bradford Visualisation’ (with Chris Gaffney). He has led major interdisciplinary projects in the Digital Humanities, including ‘Digitised Diseases’ (with Co-Is Jo Buckberry, Chris Gaffney and Hassan Ugail), ‘From Cemetery to Clinic’ (with Co-Is Jo Buckberry, Chris Gaffney and Hassan Ugail) and ‘Visualising Animal Hard Tissues’ (with Co-Is Sonia O’Connor, Rob Janaway and Hassan Ugail). He is Co-I on the AHRC Theme Large Grant ‘Fragmented Heritage’ (as part of the core management team with PI Randy Donahue and project manager Adrian Evans). He has publications in numerous journals including Nature, Science, PNAS and Current Biology. He has had successful MPhil and PhD completions from funded, sponsored and self-financed sources.

Andrew has wide-ranging interests in Biological Anthropology, Archaeological Science and Forensic Science. He first worked in field archaeology in Sussex in 1988. Initially he trained at the Institute of Archaeology and gained a First Class Honours BSc in Archaeological Conservation (UCL – 1991-94), with internships at the Ancient Monuments Laboratory and Wiltshire County Council Conservation Lab. On graduation he worked as conservator and field archaeologist for South Eastern Archaeological Services before the opportunity to work as a research intern at the Conservation Analytical Laboratory, Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC with Noreen Tuross (1995-96). He returned to the UK and gained a Distinction with his MSc Osteology, Palaeopathology & Funerary Archaeology on the original Sheffield-Bradford human osteology course (Bradford – 1996-97).

A year as Contracts Conservator at the Wiltshire County Council Conservation Service saw him undertake the Conservation of the South Cadbury Shield, which won the Museums & Galleries Commission National Conservation Award, amongst other projects (1998-99). He then returned to the University of Bradford for his Wellcome-Trust Prize PhD in Bioarchaeology (Bradford – 1999-2002).

Postdoctoral research initially included a six month project examining the impact of agrochemicals on the corrosion of metal artefacts (English Heritage), a three year Bioarchaeology Fellowship examining high resolution diet and seasonality information from hair (Wellcome Trust Bioarchaeology Programme) and a one year Fellowship examining the source, trade and exchange of textiles and their raw materials in Southern Peru (AHRC RCTCTS).

Professional Activities

Andrew is Senior Lecturer in Forensic & Archaeological Sciences, with the following academic roles:

  • Head of Postgraduate Taught Programmes in Archaeological Sciences (since 2010)
  • Member Biological, Natural,Physical & Health Sciences Research Ethics Panel (since 2009)
  • Chair of Staff-Student Liaison Committee (since 2013)
  • Member of Archaeological Sciences Teaching & Learning Committee (since 2010)
  • Module Coordinator for a number of Final Year and Masters Level Modules

Andrew has been involved with organising conference sessions for:

  • The Anatomical Society (2014)
  • Mummy Congress (2011, 2004, 2001)
  • UK Archaeological Sciences (2005)

Andrew has given invited lectures at Cambridge University, University of Copenhagen, University of Leiden, University of York, Dundee University, University of Lincoln, National Museum of Ireland, British Museum, Society of Biology, Institute for Trichologists, TRI-Princeton, Centre for Skin Sciences Inaugural Event and BA Festival of Science.

Andrew has contributed to the following academic networks:

Research Areas

Andrew’s research interests lie at the interface between archaeological science, forensic science and conservation science.

He has led a number of digitisation and visualisation projects working with human and animal remains, that include ‘Digitised Diseases’, ‘From Cemetery to Clinic’(both JISC-funded) and ‘Visualising Animal Hard Tissues’ (AHRC/EPSRC Science & Heritage). He is part of the core management team on ‘Fragmented Heritage’ (AHRC Digital Transformations Theme Large Grant) and co-directs the RKT Hub ‘Bradford Visualisation’ (HEIF-supported).

Andrew also works within Biological Anthropology on archaeological human remains. He is known in particular for his bioarchaeological studies of ancient keratin remains (hair/ wool, nail). These tissues survive only under exceptional conditions within the archaeological record, which has meant working in the field of Mummy Studies with naturally preserved and artificially mummified human/ faunal remains recovered from extreme environments. These include frozen/ arid-desiccated remains from South America (e.g. frozen Inca child sacrifice victims from Volcán Llullaillaco), Greenland and Egypt; bog remains from NW Europe, cist burials and more recent 19th century archaeological contexts (see also Natasha Powers).

Andrew exploits the rapid formation and incremental nature of hair growth (~10 mm per month for Caucasoid scalp hair) to reconstruct recent life-history (e.g. variation in diet connected with seasonal, physiological, geographic and cultural factors) using stable light isotope and other ancient biomolecular information. Andrew also works closely with other researchers on aspects of mtDNA survival, drug metabolites and other toxicological information in hair/ nail used for identification purposes (see also Emma Brown).

Andrew has research interests in taphonomy (the study of decay processes), and is interested in the variables affecting the decay of human remains subject to surface exposure, soil burial and other modifications including use of chemicals such as lime and on dismemberment. He has worked on histological changes to hair and fibres and on laboratory microcosm studies.

Fieldscale taphonomic experiments have been conducted at the Anthropological Research Facility (University of Tennessee, Knoxville), with the Bioanthropology Foundation in Southern Peru, in Belgium and within the UK (including at our own taphonomic research facility in the Pennines at Oxenhope). He has strong linkages with other researchers active in this area (see also Rob Janaway and Eline Schotsmans).

Allied to this research is casework experience in forensic archaeology and forensic taphonomy, working closely with the Police. Andrew’s conservation background has also supported work on depositional environment fluxes and their impact on preservation of archaeological remains in-situ (including EH-funded agrochemicals on metalwork and the effect of temperature/ re-oxygenation on survival of Neolithic wood in Greek wetlands).


  • Wilson AS. 2014. Digitised Diseases: Preserving Precious Remains. British Archaeology 136:36-41
  • Schotsmans EM, Denton J, Fletcher JN, Janaway RC, and Wilson AS. 2014. Short-term effects of hydrated lime and quicklime on the decay of human remains using pig cadavers as human body analogues: Laboratory experiments. Forensic Science International
  • Schotsmans EM, Fletcher JN, Denton J, Janaway RC, and Wilson AS. 2014b. Long-term effects of hydrated lime and quicklime on the decay of human remains using pig cadavers as human body analogues: Field experiments. Forensic Science International
  • Thompson AH, Wilson AS, and Ehleringer JR. 2014. Hair as a Geochemical Recorder: Ancient to Modern. In: Cerling TE, editor. Treatise on Geochemistry (volume 14): Archaeology & Anthropology. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Elsevier: 371-393
  • Villa C, Gaudio D, Cattaneo C, Buckberry J, Wilson AS, and Lynnerup N. accepted 2014. Surface curvature of pelvic joints from three laser scanners: separating anatomy from measurement error. Journal of Forensic Sciences
  • Wilson AS, Brown EL, Villa C, Lynnerup N, Healey A, Ceruti MC, Reinhard J, Previgliano CH, Araoz FA, Diez JG, Taylor T. 2013. Archaeological, radiological, and biological evidence offer insight into Inca child sacrifice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 110(33):13322-13327
  • Wilson AS, Powers N, Montgomery J, Buckberry J, Beaumont J, Bowsher D, Town M, and Janaway RC. 2013. 'Men that are gone ... come like shadows, so depart': research practice and sampling strategies for enhancing our understanding of post-medieval human remains. In: Dalglish C, editor. Archaeology, the Public and the Recent Past. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell and Brewer. p 145-162
  • Beaumont J, Geber J, Powers N, Wilson AS, Lee-Thorp J, and Montgomery J. 2013. Victims and survivors: stable isotopes used to identify migrants from the Great Irish Famine to 19th century London. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 150(1):87-98
  • Beaumont J, Montgomery J, Wilson AS 2013. Using stable isotope analysis to identify Irish migrants in the Catholic Mission of St Mary and St Michael, Whitechapel. In: Miles A, and Bowsher D, editors. He being dead yet speaketh' Excavations at three post-medieval burial grounds in Tower Hamlets, East London, 2004–08. London: MOLA. p 301-304
  • Janaway RC, O'Connor S, and Wilson AS. 2013. Gristhorpe Man: preservation, taphonomy and conservation, past and present. In: Melton ND, Knusel CJ, and Montgomery JM, editors. Gristhorpe Man: a Life and Death in the Bronze Age. Oxford: Oxbow. p 177-196
  • Powers N, Wilson AS, Montgomery J, Bowsher D, Brown T, Beaumont J, and Janaway R. 2013. "No certain roof but the coffin lid": exploring the commercial and academic need for a high level research framework to safeguard the future of the post-medieval burial resource. In: Dalglish C, editor. Archaeology, the Public and the Recent Past. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell and Brewer. p 125-144
  • Wilson AS. 2012. The Bioarchaeology of Humans: Taking the Pulse. Antiquity 86(334):1216-1219
  • Dittmar-Blado J, Wilson AS. 2012. Microscopic examination of the toolmarks. In: Fowler L. and Powers N, editors. Doctors, Dissection and Resurrection Men: Excavations in the 19th century burial ground of the London Hospital, 2006. London: Museum of London Archaeology. p 180-184
  • Bengtsson CF, Olsen ME, Brandt LO, Bertelsen MF, Willerslev E, Tobin DJ, Wilson AS, and Gilbert MTP. 2012. DNA from keratinous tissue. Part I: Hair and nail. Annals of Anatomy 194(1):17-25
  • Brasseur C, Dekeirsschieter J, Schotsmans EM, de Koning S, Wilson AS, Haubruge E, and Focant JF. 2012. Comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography-time-of-flight mass spectrometry for the forensic study of cadaveric volatile organic compounds released in soil by buried decaying pig carcasses. Journal of Chromatography A 1255:163-170
  • Schotsmans EM, Denton J, Dekeirsschieter J, Ivaneanu T, Leentjes S, Janaway RC, and Wilson AS. 2012. Effects of hydrated lime and quicklime on the decay of buried human remains using pig cadavers as human body analogues. Forensic Science International. 217(1-3):50-59
  • Turner BL, Zuckerman MK, Garofalo EM, Wilson AS, Kamenov GD, Hunt DR, Amgalantugs T, and Frohlich B. 2012. Diet and death in times of war: isotopic and osteological analysis of mummified human remains from southern Mongolia. Journal of Archaeological Science 39(10):3125-3140
  • Wilson AS. 2011. The condition of the Deer Park Farms hair and its potential for stable isotope investigation. In: Lynn CJ, and McDowell JA, editors. Deer Park Farms The Excavation of a Raised Rath in the Glenarm Valley, Co Antrim: Department of the Environment, Northern Ireland, 490-496
  • O'Connor S, Ali E, Al-Sabah S, Anwar D, Bergstrom E, Brown KA, Buckberry J, Buckley S, Collins M, Denton J, Dorling KM, Dowlec A, Duffey P, Edwards HGM, Correia Faria E, Gardner P, Gledhill A, Heatond K, Heron C, Janaway R, Keely BJ, King D, Masinton A, Penkman K, Petzold A, Pickering MD, Rumsbyl M, Schutkowski H, Shackleton KA, Thomas J, Thomas-Oates J, Usai M, Wilson AS, O’Connor T. 2011. Exceptional preservation of a prehistoric human brain from Heslington, Yorkshire, UK. Journal of Archaeological Science 38(7):1641-1654
  • Schotsmans EMJ, de Voorde WV, De Winne J, and Wilson AS. 2011. The impact of shallow burial on differential decomposition to the body: A temperate case study. Forensic Science International 206(1-3):E43-E48
  • van Doorn NL, Wilson AS, Willerslev E, and Gilbert MTP. 2011. Bone Marrow and Bone as a Source for Post-mortem RNA. Journal of Forensic Sciences 56(3):720-725
  • Wilson AS, Dodson HI, Janaway RC, Pollard AM, and Tobin DJ. 2010. Evaluating Histological Methods for Assessing Hair Fibre Degradation. Archaeometry 52:467-481
  • Wilson AS, and Tobin DJ. 2010. Hair after Death. In: Trueb RM, and Tobin DJ, editors. Aging Hair. New York: Springer 249-261
  • Wilson AS, and Cadwallader L. 2010. Individuals with surviving hair. In: Connell B, and Miles A, editors. The City Bunhill burial ground, Golden Lane, London: Excavations at South Islington schools, 2006. London: Museum of London Archaeology. p 49-52
  • Edwards HGM, Montgomery J, Melton ND, Hargreaves MD, Wilson AS, and Carter EA. 2010. Gristhorpe Man: a Raman spectroscopic study of 'mistletoe berries' in a Bronze Age log coffin burial. Journal of Raman Spectroscopy 41(11):1533-1536
  • Knusel CJ, Batt CM, Cook G, Montgomery J, Muldner G, Ogden AR, Palmer C, Stern B, Todd J, and Wilson AS. 2010. The Identity of the St Bees Lady, Cumbria: An Osteobiographical Approach. Medieval Archaeology 54(1):271-311
  • Melton N, Montgomery J, Knusel CJ, Batt C, Needham S, Parker Pearson M, Sheridan A, Heron C, Horsley T, Schmidt A, Evans A, Carter E, Edwards HGM, Hargreaves M, Janaway RC, Lynnerup N, Northover P, O’Connor S, Ogden A, Taylor T, Wastling V and Wilson AS. 2010. Gristhorpe Man: an Early Bronze Age log-coffin burial scientifically designed. Antiquity 84: 796-815
  • Rasmussen M, Li YR, Lindgreen S, Pedersen JS, Albrechtsen A, Moltke I, Metspalu M, Metspalu E, Kivisild T, Gupta R, Bertalan M, Nielsen K, Gilbert MTP, Wang Y, Raghavan M, Campos PF, Kamp HM, Wilson AS, Gledhill A, Tridico S, Bunce M, Lorenzen ED, Binladen J, Guo X, Zhao J, Zhang X, Zhang H, Li Z, Chen M, Orlando L, Kristiansen K, Bak M, Tommerup N, Bendixen C, Pierre TL, Grønnow B, Meldgaard M, Andreasen C, Fedorova SA, Osipova LP, Higham TFG, Bronk Ramsey C, Hansen TO, Nielsen FC, Crawford MH, Brunak S, Sicheritz-Ponte T, Villems R, Nielsen R, Krogh A. Wang J, Willerslev E. 2010. Ancient human genome sequence of an extinct Palaeo-Eskimo. Nature 463(7282):757-762
  • Backwell L, Pickering R, Brothwell D, Berger L, Witcomb M, Martill D, Penkman K, and Wilson AS. 2009. Probable human hair found in a fossil hyaena coprolite from Gladysvale cave, South Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science 36(6):1269-1276
  • Janaway RC, Percival SL, and Wilson AS. 2009. Decomposition of Human Remains. In: Percival SL, editor. Microbiology & Aging. New York: Springer. p 313-334
  • Janaway RC, Wilson AS, Carpio Díaz G, and Guillen S. 2009. Taphonomic changes to the buried body in arid environments: an experimental case study in Peru. In: Ritz K, Dawson L, and Miller D, editors. Criminal & Environmental Soil Forensics. New York: Springer. p 341-356
  • Petrou M, Edwards HGM, Janaway RC, Thompson GB, and Wilson AS. 2009. Fourier-transform Raman spectroscopic study of a Neolithic waterlogged wood assemblage. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 395(7):2131-2138
  • Wilson AS. 2008. The decomposition of hair in the buried body environment. In: Tibbett M, and Carter DO, editors. Soil Analysis in Forensic Taphonomy: Chemical and Biological Effects of Buried Human Remains. Boca Raton: CRC Press. p 123-151
  • Wilson AS. 2008. The Hair. In: McKinley I., editor. The 18th Century Baptist Chapel and Burial Ground at West Butts Street, Poole. Salisbury: Wessex Archaeology. p 49-50
  • Frohlich B, Zuckerman M, Amgalantugs T, Hunt D, Wilson AS, Gilbert MTP, Chambers R, Coyle HM, Falkowski B, Garofalo E et al. 2008. Human Mummified Remains from the Gobi Desert: Current Progress in Reconstruction and Evaluation. In: Pena P, Rodriguez Martin C, and Ramirez Rodriguez A, editors. Mummies and Science: World Mummies Research. Santa Cruz de Tenerife: Academia Canaria de la Historia. p 17-26
  • Petrou M, Edwards HGM, Janaway RC, Kavvouras P, Thompson GB, and Wilson AS. 2008. The degradation of lignocellulosics under conditions applicable to wetlands in northern Greece. In: Kars H, editor. Geo and Bioarchaeological Studies vol 10 - PARIS 3 proceedings. Amsterdam: Institute for Geo- and Bioarchaeology, Vrije Universiteit. p 47-54
  • Pollard AM, Brothwell DR, Aali A, Buckley S, Fazeli H, Hadian Dehkordi M, Holden T, Jones AKG, Shokouhi JJ, Vatandoust R and Wilson AS. 2008. Below the salt: a preliminary study of the dating and biology of five salt-preserved bodies from Zanjan Province, Iran. Iran - Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies XLVI:135-150

Andrew Wilson Full Publications List (pdf)

Public/Academic/Stakeholder Engagement

Andrew is active in communicating science to the wider public.

Projects include:

  • Digitised Diseases (2011-present) contributions to ‘You Are What You Ate’ Exhibition at Pontefract Museum and ‘Doctors, Dissection & Resurrection Men’ Exhibition via Museum of London Archaeology
  • Gristhorpe Man (2005-8 Scarborough Museum/ Dr. Nigel Melton) and at BA Festival of Science (2004)
  • South Cadbury Shield (joint Wiltshire and Somerset CC project; winner MGC National Conservation Award,1999)

In the News/Media



2013 - Hair analysis sheds light on Inca child sacrifice

Other research has been featured by:

  • New Scientist
  • BBC (Timewatch; Tomorrows World; Questions)
  • Other TV/ radio channels

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