Rhy McMillan

PhD student
University of British Columbia

Are the bones we find in their original context?

I am interested in helping archaeologists, palaeoanthropologists, and palaeontologists better describe and explain the spatial, temporal, and biological relationships within and between assemblages of exhumed bones and teeth. As a multidisciplinary researcher, I approach this through the lens of taphonomy by focusing on the sedimentary context of excavated remains, their preservation states, and the degree to which they have been physically and chemically altered post-mortem. This requires closely examining early diagenesis and fossilisation within the Quaternary by both qualitative and quantitative methods.

Under the supervision of Dr. Dominique Weis and Dr. Marg Amini, my research with the MAGNET program involves analysing the chemical and isotopic signatures of both modern and fossilised bones with LA-ICP-MS and other mass spectrometric methods. My objective is to further develop the application of geochemistry to in- and ex-vivo provenance studies and to the acquisition of information not obtainable with traditional morphological analyses and osteometry. This is to facilitate the interpretation of the source, identity, and movement of humans and their artifacts through space and time.