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Archaeology of Agriculture: using children to assess the past | Auckland

Sensitive little souls: Using children to assess the agricultural transition and its effect on human health and society

Associate Professor Siân Halcrow

Department of Anatomy, University of Otago

Celebrating 25 years of Marsden Funding Te Pūtea Rangahau a Marsden

Human skeletons have the capacity to reveal the story of ancient lives. Dr Siân Halcrow’s research is focused on child health and disease in the past. Using the chemistry of bone and teeth and evidence for disease, we can assess what food people ate, when children where weaned and their quality of life.

This talk will showcase recent research that shows the importance of the investigation of health near the start of life to answer major questions about our past. Dr Halcrow's work explores the question of how human life changed with the beginnings of agriculture, one of the most significant economic changes in human history. "Using an approach that assesses case studies in diverse regions," says Dr Halcrow, "we find that patterns of health change are regionally specific. Our application of new methods in studying humans from the past show the intricate relationship between the mother and child and their stories of stress."

“This research advances our scientific understandings of the impact of the adoption of agriculture on human biology, an event that has far-reaching consequences for today’s society.”

About the Marsden Fund 25 Series

The Marsden Fund 25 Series celebrates 25 years of excellent research through regional lectures, online profiles and video interviews.

Marsden Fund Te Pūtea Rangahau a Marsden was established by the New Zealand government in 1994. Since then, it has driven world-class research in New Zealand by supporting and incentivising excellent researchers to work on their best and boldest ideas, to connect internationally, leading to new knowledge and skills with the potential for significant downstream impact for Aotearoa.

To celebrate, the Marsden Fund 25 Series shines a light on 25 researchers to reflect on the depth and breadth of research excellence making a difference across the disciplines supported by this funding. Over coming months, there will be 15 regional lectures and 10 online profiles to explore.


Royal Society Te Apārangi


General Library B10 Auditorium, University of Auckland, Alfred Street, Auckland, Auckland 1010

6:00pm Wed 2 October, 2019 - 7:00pm Wed 2 October, 2019