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Hannah James

Post-doctoral scientists


I am an archaeological scientist interested in the application of isotopic analysis. I believe that by combining isotopic evidence with archaeological, historical, environmental and other scientific data, a more complete and complex picture of the human past can be uncovered.

I completed my Masters in Archaeological Science and PhD in Earth Sciences at the Australian National University. My PhD research was two pronged. I investigated intra-tooth variation in oxygen isotopes, a remnant of early childhood diet and environment, using in situ analysis. I also created bioavailable strontium isotopic maps for Corsica and New Caledonia, and applied these as baselines for understanding human mobility in these areas. My PhD and subsequent work has offered me the opportunity to work on samples from a range of spatially and temporally different sites from a Lapita cemetery in Vanuatu, to a Bell Beaker mound in France, an historical cemetery in Guadalupe, collective tombs in Portugal and Neanderthal burials. I have also collaborated with isotope researchers in environmental science and ecology.

I am interested in improving in situ analysis techniques for archaeological isotopic analysis on human and animal remains, as a way of investigating fine-scale variation within materials.

My current postdoctoral role, working on the ERC Lumiere project, looks at applying isotopes to cremated remains and developing effective baseline measurements to allow for better assessments of human mobility and landscape use.

Key publications

Willmes, M., Bataille, C.P., James, H.F., Moffat, I., McMorrow, L., Kinsley, L., Armstrong, R.A. Eggins, S., Grün, R. 2018. Mapping of bioavailable strontium isotope ratios in France for archaeological provenance studies. Applied Geochemistry, 90, 75-86

Smith, T.M., Austin, C., Green, D.R., Joannes-Boyau, R., Bailey, S., Dumitriu, D., Fallon, S., Grün, R., James, H.F., Moncel, M.H., Williams, I.S., Wood, R., Arora, M., 2018. Wintertime stress, nursing, and lead exposure in Neanderthal children. Science Advances, 4(10)

James, H.F., Willmes, M., Boel, C.A., Courtaud, P., Chancerel, A., Ciesielski, E., Desideri, J., Bridy, A., Wood, R., Moffat, I., Fallon, S., McMorrow, L., Armstrong, R.A., Williams, I.S., Kinsley, L., Aubert, M., Eggins, S., Frieman, C.J., Grün, R., 2019. Who’s been using my burial mound? Radiocarbon dating and isotopic tracing of human diet and mobility at the collective burial site, Le Tumulus des Sables, southwest France. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 24, 955-966

Moncel, M.H., Fernandes, P., Willmes, M., James, H.F., Grün, R., 2019. Rocks, Teeth, and Tools: New insights into early Neanderthal subsistence strategies in South-Eastern France from lithic reconstructions and strontium isotope analysis. PLoS ONE, 14(4).

Willmes, M., Lewis, L.S., Davis, B.E., Loiselle, L., James, H.F., Denny, C., Baxter, R., Conrad, L., Fangue, N.A., Hung, T.C., Armstrong R.A., Williams, I.S., Holden, P., Hobbs, J.A., 2019. Calibrating temperature reconstructions from fish otolith oxygen isotope analysis for California’s critically endangered Delta Smelt. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 33 (14), 1207-1220