Anthropology Department Chair
Dr. Andrew Nelson's research interests are centred in two of the major subfields of anthropology, biological anthropology and archaeology. In the field of biological anthropology his research focus is human evolution. In the field of bioarchaeology his research focus is the study of human remains from ancient cultures.
Dr. Nelson's work in human evolution involves the detailed analysis of morphological and metric traits of the bones of the skeleton of primates, fossil hominids and modern humans. His recent research has focused on growth and development in fossil hominids, particularly Neandertals. He is also interested in the reconstruction of body size in extinct hominids, and how body size has changed over the course of our evolution.
Dr. Nelson's bioarchaeological research is focused on Precolumbian sites in Peru. He has 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 (Chan Chan, Cajamarquilla, Tucume, Laguna de los Condores). His current research project is a non-destructive radiological examination of mummy bundles from the Late Intermediate Period and Inka Period examining changing patterns of health, disease and funerary rituals. The objective of this work is to obtain an understanding of the interactions of biology and culture within and between cultural horizons.
He has now begun a new SSHRC funded project working on skeletons and mummy bundles from the Peruvian Central Coast to document the transition from the Late Intermediate Period to the Late Horizon (Inca Period). This includes x-rays and CT scans of individuals from the sites of Rinconada Alta, Pachacamac, Huaca Huallamarca and Huaycan de Piriachi.
In addition, Dr. Nelson is interested in the use of non-destructive imaging techniques in the analysis of human remains (skeletons & mummies) and archaeological and historic artifacts. Specific methods include plain film x-ray, CT scanning, and micro-CT scanning. The use of paleoradiology and virtual imaging in the analysis and presentation of Egyptian mummies has been a particularly fruitful area of research.
He is also involved in local archaeological and forensic projects. Dr. Nelson functions as a consultant to local contract archaeology firms, and to the London Police Services.