Andrew Nelson

Andrew Nelson

Professor -Archaeology/Biological Anthropology

Member of Bone and Joint Institute

PhD 1995 (University of California, Los Angeles)


Office: Social Science Centre 3323
Tel: 519 661-2111  ext. 85085
Curriculum Vitae - 2023



Research Interests

My research falls into three broad areas: 

1) The use of non-destructive imaging in Bioarchaeology and Archaeology (Paleoimaging)
This area of interest involves the use of radiography and other imaging techniques to non-destructively capture and analyze human skeletal remains and archaeological artifacts.  Specific methods include plain film x-ray, CT scanning, and micro-CT scanning.  Specific subjects of analysis include skeletal remains from many sites and Egyptian and Peruvian mummies, Moche pots, stone and shell beaded pectorals, and medieval prayer beads (see .  The use of paleoradiology and virtual imaging in the analysis and presentation of Egyptian mummies has been a particularly fruitful area of research.

2) Peruvian Bioarchaeology
I started going to Peru as a student in 1982, and have been going as a professional bioarchaeologist since 1995.  I have worked primarily on the North Coast at sites in the Jequetepeque Valley (San Jose de Moro, Pacatnamu, Farfán) and with material from other sites in Peru (Cajamarquilla, Tucume, Laguna de los Condores).  My interests lie in the areas of biocultural change over time, the interactions between culture and biology (cranial modification etc), and patterns of heath and disease.

In 2019, I began a new SSHRC funded project working on skeletons and mummy bundles (fardos) from the Peruvian Central Coast to document changes in mortuary rituals and patterns of health and disease from the Middle Horizon to the Late Horizon. This includes x-rays and CT scans of individuals from the sites of Rinconada Alta, Huaca Huallamarca, Huaycan de Piriachi, Huaca Malena and Pachacamac. The project is entitled “Mummies as Microcosms” because each mummy bundle is a microcosm of the cultural and biological world in which the individual within lived.   

3) Hominid growth, development and body size
My doctoral dissertation focused on hominid body size and how body size could affect traits throughout the skeleton, and subsequent research involved the examination of how body size and its associated characteristics was achieved through ontogeny. Much of the latter work has been undertaken in collaboration with my colleague Dr. Jennifer Thompson formerly of UNLV.


Two key themes that characterize each of these research areas are interdisciplinarity and collaboration.  The study of human remains is inherently interdisciplinary, drawing upon methods and theory from across the full spectrum of academic disciplines.  It is a way of thinking about the world, seeing beyond disciplinary silos, seeking the expertise of scholars in other disciplines. 

Selected Publications Relevant to Paleoimaging.


Beckett, R.G., Conlogue, G.J. & Nelson, A.J. (editors). 2021. Case Studies for Advances in Paleoimaging and Other Non-Clinical Applications. Taylor & Francis, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Fl.

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Nelson, AJ & Kogon, S. 2021. Case Study 6: Teeth; Plane radiography (Film); clinical CT; micro-CT. In: Beckett, R.G., Conlogue, G.J. & Nelson, A.J. (editors). Case Studies for Advances in Paleoimaging and Other Non-Clinical Applications, Taylor & Francis, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Fl., pp: 99-109.

Conlogue, G.J., Nelson, A.J. & Lurie, A.G. 2020. Chapter 7. Computed tomography (CT), multi-detector computed tomography (MDCT), micro-CT and cone beam computed tomography (CBCT). In: R.G. Beckett & G.J. Conlogue (editors.) Advances in Paleoimaging: Applications for Paleoanthropology, Bioarcheology, and Cultural Artifacts, Taylor & Francis, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Fl., pp: 111-178.

P.G. Brown, P.J.A. McCausland, A.R. Hildebrand, L.T.J. Hanton, L.M. Eckart, H. Busemann, D. Krietsch, C. Maden, K. Welten, M. W. Caffee, M. Laubenstien, D. Vida, F. Ciceri, E. Silbe, C.D.K. Herd, P. Hill, H. Devillepoix, Eleanor K. Sansom, Martin Cupák, Seamus Anderson, R.L. Flemming, A.J. Nelson, M. Mazur, D.E. Moser, W.J. Cooke, D. Hladiuk, Barbara Malečić, Maja Telišman Prtenjak, R. Nowell. 2023. The Golden Meteorite Fall: Fireball trajectory, orbit and characterization. Meteoritics and Planetary Science 1–35. doi: 10.1111/maps.14100

Poeta, L.A., Ordóñez, M.P., Fournier, E. & Nelson, A.J. 2022 Correlative tomography and authentication features of a shrunken head (tsantsa). PLOS One 17(8): e0270305.

Sargan, J.D., Lockhart, J.J., Nelson, A.J., Meert-Williston, D. & Gillespie, A. 2022. The ghosts of bindings past: Micro computed X-ray tomography for the study of bookbinding. Digital Philology 11(1): 142-173.

VanLoon, LL., Nelson, AJ, Wartenberg Kagan, U, Barron, K & Banerjee, NR.  2019. Bubbles in the bullion: Micro-CT imaging of the internal structure of ancient coins. Microsc Microanal. 5 (Suppl 2): 420-421

Kozachuk, MS, Sham, TK, Martin, RR, Nelson, AJ, Coulthard, I, McElhone. JP. 2018.  Recovery of degraded-beyond-recognition 19th century daguerreotypes with rapid high dynamic range elemental X-ray fluorescence imaging of mercury l emission. Nature Scientific Reports 10.1038/s41598-018-27714-5. 

Ellis, L, Suda, A, Martin, RM, Moffatt, E, Poulin, J & Nelson, AJ. 2017.  The virtual deconstruction of a prayer bead in the Thomson Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario with micro-CT scanning and advanced 3d analysis software.  In: E Wetter & F Scholten (eds.), Prayer-Nuts, Private Devotion and Early Modern Art Collecting, pp: 209-217. Abegg-Siftung: Riggisberg. 

Nelson, AJ & Wade, AD.  2015.  IMPACT: Development of a radiological mummy database.  Anatomical Record 298:941–948. 

Wade, AD & Nelson, AJ. 2013. Evisceration and excerebration in the Egyptian mummification tradition.  Journal of Archaeological Science 40: 4198-4206  

Martin, RR, Naftel, SJ, Macfie, SM, Jones, KW, & Nelson, AJ.  2013. Pb distribution in bones from the Franklin expedition: synchrotron X-ray fluorescence and laser ablation/mass spectroscopy.  Applied Physics A 111: 23-29.  


Selected Publications Relevant to Peruvian Bioarchaeology


Mackey, CJ & Nelson, AJ. 2020. Life, Death and Burial Practices During the Inca Occupation of Farfán, on Perú’s North Coast. Andean Past Monograph #2, Department of Anthropology, University of Maine -

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Nelson, AJ, Motley, J, Watson, LC, Williams, J, Kirgis, P, Huchet, J-B, Gauld, S, Poeta, L, Ward, A, Nakahodo, N, Woodley, K, Andersen, H, Rountree, S, Succee, R, Baldeos, J, Fuentes, S,y Pozzi-Escot, D. In press. Headless Burials from Pachacamac, Peru: A taphonomic approach to reconstructing mortuary ritual. Bioarchaeology International.

Watson, L., Fuentes, S., Nelson, A., Williams, J., Gauld, S., Motley, J., Poeta, L., Gomez, L., Baldeos, J., & Pozzi-Escott, D. 2022. Envolviendo al muerto a orillas del mar: análisis de escaneos tomográficos computarizados de fardos de Ancón y Pachacamac (1100 d. C. - 1532 d. C.). Boletín de Arqueología Pontifica Universidad Católica del Perú, 31: 81-101.

Nelson, AJ, Watson, LC, Williams, J., Gauld, S, Motley, J, Poeta, L, Seston, D, Gomez, E, Baldeos, J, Fuentes, S & Pozzi-Escot, D. 2021. Análisis de los fardos funerarios de Pachacamac: Aplicación sistemática de rayos X y tomografía computarizada en un contexto arqueológico. Actas VI Congreso Nacional de Arqueología, Ministerio de Cultura, August, Lima, Perú, 293-308.

Kozachuck, M.S., Sham, T.K., Martin, R.R. & Nelson, A.J. 2020. Bromine, a possible marine diet indicator? A hypothesis revisited. Archaeometry 62: 1267-1279. DOI: 10.1111/arcm.12590.

Ordóñez, MP, Beckett, R, Nelson, AJ, Conlogue, G. 2015.  Paleoimagen y análisis bioanthropológico de la colección Maranga del Museo Jacinto Jijón y Caamaño.  Antropologica: Quadernos de Investigación (Revista de la Escuela de Antropología|Pontifica Universidad Católica del Ecuador.  No 15. 

Dolphin, A, Naftel, S, Nelson, AJ, Martin, RR & White, CD. 2013. Bromine in teeth and bone as an indicator of marine diet.  Journal of Archaeological Science 40: 1778-1786   

Selected Publications Relevant to Hominin Growth and Development


Thompson, JL, Krovitz, G & Nelson, AJ. (editors). 2003. Growth and Development in the Genus Homo.  Cambridge University Press: Cambridge. 

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Thompson, JL & Nelson, AJ. 2016.  Childhood and patterns of growth in the genus Homo. In: C Meehan & A Crittenden, (eds.), Childhood: Origins, Evolution and Implications, pp: 75-102. University of New Mexico Press/School of American Research: Santa Fe.   

Thompson, JL & Nelson, AJ. 2011. Middle childhood and modern human origins. Human Nature 22: 249-280.   

Cross, A, Collard, M, & Nelson, AJ. 2008. Body segment differences in surface area, skin temperature, and 3D displacement and the estimation of heat balance during locomotion in hominins. PLOS One 3(6) e2464: 1-9. 

Nelson, AJ & Thompson, JL 2005. Le Moustier 1 and the interpretation of stages in Neandertal growth and development. In: H Ullrich (ed.), The Neandertal Adolescent Le Moustier 1 - New Aspects, New Results, pp: 328-338. Staatliche Museen Zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesiz: Berlin. 

Nelson, AJ, Krovitz, GE & Thompson, JL. 2003. Hominid growth and development in Upper Pleistocene Homo. In: JL Thompson, G Krovitz & AJ Nelson (eds.), Growth and Development in the Genus Homo, pp: 412-435. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge. 

Thompson, JL, Nelson, AJ & Illerhaus, B. 2002. 3-D imaging and traditional morphometric analysis of the adolescent Neandertal from Le Moustier.  In: B Mafart & H Delingette (eds.), Three-Dimensional Imaging in Paleoanthropology and Prehistoric Archeology, British Archeological Reports, International Series 1049, pp: 55-61. 

Thompson, JL & Nelson, AJ. 2000. The place of Neandertals in the evolution of hominid patterns of growth and development. Journal of Human Evolution 38(4): 475-495.  


Recent Research Funding

Year Position Grantor Purpose Amount
2022 Co-applicant N Reznikov PI)

New Frontiers in Research Fund Upsampling of low-resolution/large-volume 3D tomographic images using generative adversarial neural networks applied to medical imaging, biological anthropology and evolutionary biology

Research $250,000
2019 Co-PI - (with Jocelyn Williams)

SSHRC - Mummies as Microcosms: The Bioarchaeology of the Inka Occupation of the Central Coast of Peru

Research $253,435
2014 PI (SSHRC Leader)

SSHRC & in-kind University support

“Big Data in the SSHRC Disciplines - Data from the Past, Present and Future”
SSHRC Regional Event $30,000
2012 Co-PI (with R. Thompson)

Digging Into Data Challenge – SSHRC and National Endowment for the Humanities.

“IMPACT Radiological Mummy Database”
Research SSHRC = $80,917 NEH = $84,556 (US)
2011-2014 Co-Applicant (C. White PI)

SSHRC Isotopic anthropology of pre-Columbian camelids from northern Peru

Research $124,235


(N. Ferris PI)

Canada Foundation for Innovation, Ontario Ministry of Research and Industry and matching sources

“Capacities for a Sustainable Archaeology”

$9.77 million

(CFI=$3.9M, ORF = $3.9M

matching = $2.0M)


Teaching and Graduate Supervision

Undergraduate courses: 

  • Anthropology 1020 – Many Ways of Being Human
  • Anthropology 2236 - Human Aging: Bioanthropological Perspectives
  • Anthropology 2239 - The Scientific and Cultural Analysis of Mummies
  • Anthropology 3311 - Bioarchaeology: Practice and Theory
  • Anthropology 3336 - Topics in Human Evolution
  • Anthropology 4424 – Advanced Analytical Techniques in Biological Anthropology and Archaeology
  • Anthropology 4426 – Mortuary Archaeology

Graduate courses: 

  • Special Topics in Bioarchaeology: Advanced Analytical Techniques in Archaeology and Bioarchaeology
  • Special Topics in Bioarchaeology: Bioarchaeology
  • Research Methods in Bioarchaeology
  • Mortuary Archaeology


Doctoral Supervision

Student Program Role Year Title Awards
13) Pauline Kirgis Préhistoire à l'Actuel : Culture, Environnement & Anthropologie Université de Bordeaux co-supervisor with Jean-Bernard Huchet 2020 – 2024 archaeoentomology of Peruvian mummies Mitacs Globalink Research Award (2021)
12) Joanna Motley Anthropology, Western supervisor 2017 – completed Aug 202 Transforming the Dead: The Taphonomy and Ritual Economy of Funerary Bundles on the Pre-Hispanic Central Coast of Peru (1000-1532 CE) SSHRC-CGS winner (2019-22), OGS winner (2018-19)
11) Jennifer Willoughby Anthropology, UWO supervisor 2015 – completed Aug 2022 Of Mice and Mummies: Experimental Mummification and Radiological Examination of Neoplastic Disease and Cancer in Mummified Remains from Ancient Egypt and Peru Trillium award winner
10) Madalena Kozachuk Chemistry, UWO co-supervisor w Ron Martin and TK Sham completed July 2019 Synchrotron Radiation Analysis of Daguerreotypes: Surface Characterization, Electrocleaning, and Preservation OGS winner (2018-19)
9) Maria del Carmen de la Vega Anthropology, UWO supervisor completed July 2016 A History of Violence: 3200 Years of Interpersonal and Intergroup Conflicts from the Initial to the Early Colonial Periods in the Peruvian Central Coast. A Bioarchaeological Perspective Vanier award winner, Western Humanitarian Award winner
8) Jennifer Morgan Anthropology, UWO supervisor completed May 2014 The Methodological and Diagnostic Applications of Micro-CT to Palaeopathology: A Quantitative Study of Porotic Hyperostosis OGS, & OGSST award winner

 MA Supervision

Student Program Role Year Title Awards
38) Sorcha Rountree Anthropology, UWO supervisor 2023 & ongoing GMM analysis of cranial modification
37) Sarah Bidinosti Anthropology, UWO supervisor 2023 & ongoing translation of osteological methods to the CT environment
36) Kate Woodley Anthropology, UWO supervisor 2022 & ongoing bioarchaeology of care at Pachacamac OGS
35) Maris Schneider Anthropology, UWO supervisor 2022 & ongoing animal mummies and deep learning superr-esolution SSHRC CGS-M / OGS
34) Naomi Nakahodo Anthropology, UWO supervisor 2021 – completed Oct 2023 Head shapes and toothaches: A study of cranial modification and dental pathology at MUNA, a late pre-Hispanic cemetery from the Archaeological Sanctuary of Pachacamac (Lima, Perú).
33) Ashley Ward Anthropology, UWO supervisor 2021 & ongoing structural violence SSHRC CGS-M
32) Teegan Muggridge Anthropology, UWO co- supervisor with Andrew Walsh 2020 & ongoing knowledge mobilization using human remains
31) Lauren Poeta Anthropology, UWO supervisor 2020 & ongoing childhood in Ancient Peru SSHRC CGS-M; Wiikwemkoong Board of Education
30) Emy Roberge Anthropology, UWO supervisor 2019 – completed May 2022 Dental Health in the Aqllakuna from Farfan (Peru)" A New Perspective on an Inca Female Institution (ca.1470-1532 A.D.) Using Micro CT and Histological Analysis CGSM (2020)
29) Cameron Beason Anthropology, UWO supervisor 2019 – completed Oct 2021 Evaluating Cranial Nonmetric Traits in Mummies from Pachamac, Peru: The Utility of Semi-Automated Image Segmentation in Paleoradiolog
28) Jillian Graves Anthropology, UWO supervisor 2018 - completed January 2020 Ancient Egyptian Subadult Mummies: Unwrapping Childhood in the Ancient Past OGS (2019); SSHRC CGS-M (2019)
27) Andrew Arsenault Anthropology, UWO supervisor 2018 - completed January 2020 Social Stratification & Mummification in Ancient Egypt: The Inevitability of Variability in the Post-New Kingdom Mummification Program OGS (2018); SSHRC CGS-M (2019)
26) Kayla Golay Lausanne Anthropology, UWO co-supervisor with Jean-Francois Millaire 2018 - completed January 2020 Seeing the Invisible: An Integrated Remote Sensing Approach to Mapping Buried Architecture at Las Colmenas, Virú Valley, Peru OGS (2018)
25) Jessica Lacerte Anthropology, UWO supervisor 2017 - completed Aug 2019 Analysis of linear enamel hyopoplastic lines in teeth of skeletons from Peru’s central coast OGS (2017)
24) Katya Valladares Anthropology, UWO supervisor 2016 -completed Dec 2018 Social Identities in Chimu Times: A Bioarchaeological Analysis of Burials from Chayhuac Walled Complex in Chan Chan site Institut Français d’études Andines, Carlos Brignardello, award holder
23) Hallie Tennant Anthropology, UWO supervisor completed August 2015 To Walk about as They Pleaseth: an Exploratory Study of Limb Treatment and Positioning in Ancient Egyptian Mummies
22) Rebecca Dillon Anthropology, UWO co-supervisor w J.F. Millaire completed April 2015 Ritual Violence and Times of Transition: A Bioarchaeological Analysis of Burials from Huaca Santa Clara and Huaca Gallinazo in the Virú Valley, Perú
21) Jose Sanchez Anthropology, UWO supervisor completed September 2014 In Search of a Cause: An Etiological Analysis of Manubrial Porosity