Professor Marc Oxenham

Professor Marc Oxenham

Position: Professor in Bioarchaeology
School and/or Centres: Biological Anthropology


Phone: 612 54418

Location: Room 228, Upper Floor, Banks Building (#44), Linnaeus Way



Researcher profile:

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.

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.

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.

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. TBA.

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. The Identity at Death of the Old and Young from 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
Honours Projects


Past student projects

Doctoral projects

2017. Cameron, Alyce. Estimating the post-mortem interval of skeletal remains: a taphonomic approach.

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. Karen Cooke. A Comparative Study of Enamel Hypoplasia in the Lapita Sites of Teouma, Vanuatu, and Talasiu, Tonga.

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

2016. Melandri Vlok. Healing Bones: A Case Study of Healthcare Practice in the Metal Period, Philippines.

2016. Nick Dempsey. Modelling Blunt Force Trauma Using Sus scrofa Tibiae.

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. Sub-Adult Identity: Attitudes towards Childhood Viewed from Mortuary Settings in Neolithic and Bronze Age Thailand.

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.


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