Dr. Sarah Inskip

Project leader

I am researcher based at the University of Leicester interested in the integration of skeletal evidence obtained from archaeological human skeletal remains with historical and modern health narratives. I undertook my masters in Osteoarchaeology at the University of Southampton in funerary archaeology and taphonomy. After this, my doctoral research focused on activity-related skeletal changes and the emergence of Islamic identity in Southern Iberia (700-1200AD). During this time I also became interested in understanding the origins and spread of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) in England through the use of osteological and biomolecular methods, and the testing and validation of methods used for age and sex estimation.

After completing my PhD in 2013, I became an assistant professor at Leiden University, the Netherlands, in the Laboratory for Human Osteoarchaeology and Funerary Archaeology where my research on Hansen’s Disease continued. I also became interested in the health repercussions of the social changes that took place in the post-medieval period, including the introduction of tobacco to Europe.  I moved to the University of Cambridge in 2016 to work on the Wellcome Trust funded ‘After the Plague: Health and History’ Project as a Research Associate. This interdisciplinary project focused on the integration of osteological, archaeological, biomolecular, geochemical, biomechanical and palaeopathological data to answer questions surrounding continuity or change after the outbreak of the second plague pandemic in 1348. In November, I took up the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship at the School of Archaeology and Ancient History at Leicester to assess the impact of the use and commodification of tobacco on health in Post-Medieval England, The Netherlands and Spain. This work brings together researchers from Archaeology, History, Sociology, and biomolecular sciences with researchers in museums and archaeological units from across Europe.  I also continue to work on improving our knowledge of the spread of Hansen’s Disease and am now focusing on the role of human and squirrel interactions in the Medieval period in collaboration with researchers from the University of Zurich and the University of Cambridge. 


  • BSc Forensic Science 2003
    (University of Lincoln)
  • MA Osteoarchaeology 2005
    (University of Southampton)
  • PhD Bioarchaeology 2013
    (University of Southampton)

Key research interests

  • Bioarchaeology
  • Post-Medieval Archaeology
  • Tobacco commodification
  • Hansen’s Disease
  • Biomolecular Archaeology

Total peer reviewed publications:

Main publications

  • Lightfoot E, Pomeroy E, Grant J, O’Connell TC, le Roux P, Inskip S, Benady S, Finlayson C, Finlayson G and Lane K. 2020. Sea, Sickness and Cautionary Tales: A multi-isotope study from a post-Medieval hospital at the city-port of Gibraltar (AD 1462–1704). 2020. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 12: (273).

  • Mulder B, Stock JT, Saers JPP, Inskip SA, Cessford C, Robb JE. 2020. Intrapopulation variation in lower limb trabecular architecture. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 173(1):112-129.

  • Majander K, Pfrengle S, Kocher A, Neukamm J, du Plessis L, Pla-Díaz M, Arora N, Akgül G, Salo K, Schats R, Inskip S, et al. 2020. Ancient Bacterial Genomes Reveal a High Diversity of Treponema pallidum Strains in Early Modern Europe. Current Biology 2020 Aug 7:S0960-9822(20)31083-6.

  • Spyrou MA, Keller M, Tukhbatova RI, Scheib CL, Nelson EA, Andrades Valtueña A, Neumann GU, Walker D, Alterauge A, Carty N, Cessford C, Fetz H, Gourvennec M, Hartle R, Henderson M, von Heyking K, Inskip SA et al. 2019. Phylogeography of the second plague pandemic revealed through analysis of historical Yersinia pestis genomes. Nature Communications Oct 2;10 (1):4470. PMID

  • Robb JE, Inskip SA, Scheib C, Kivisild T, Cessford C, Wohns AW, Rose A, O’Connell T, Dittmar J, Mitchell P, Stock J and Mulder B. 2019. Osteobiography: the history of the body as real bottom-line history. Bioarchaeology International 3:16-31.

  • Keller M, Spyrou MA, Scheib CA, Neumann GU, Kröpelin A, Haas-Gebhard B, Päffgen B, Haberstroh J, Lacomba AR, Raynaud C, Cessford C, Durand R, Stadler P, Nägele K, Bates JS, Trautmann B, Inskip SA, Peters J, Robb JE, Kivisild T, Castex D, McCormick M, Bos KI, Harbeck M, Herbig A, Krause J. 2019. Ancient Yersinia pestis genomes from across Western Europe reveal early diversification during the First Pandemic (541-750 CE). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

  • Scheib C, Hui R, D’Anatasio E, Wohns AW, Inskip SA, Rose A, Cessford C, O’Connell, Robb JE, Evans C, Pattern R, and Kivisild T. 2019. East Anglian Early Neolithic Monument burial linked to contemporary Megaliths. Annals of Human Biology 43:145-149.

  • Inskip SA, Scheib C, Kivisild T, Cessford C, Wohns AW, and Robb JE.  2019. Evaluating Macroscopic Sex Estimation Methods using Genetically Sexed Archaeological Material: The Medieval Skeletal Collection from St John’s Divinity School, Cambridge. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 168:340-351.

  • Inskip SA. Carroll G, Lopez O, and Waters-Rist A. 2019. Diet and food strategies in a southern al-Andalusian urban environment during Caliphal period, Écija, Sevilla. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences.

  • Schuenemann VJ, Avanzi C, Seitz A, Krause-Kyora B, Herbig A, Benjak A, Inskip S, Boldsen J, Taylor GM, Singh P, Mays S, Donoghue HD, Zakrzewski S, Nieselt K, Cole ST, and Krause J. 2018. Genome wide spread study on European Leprosy. PloS Pathogens 14: e1006997. 

  • Inskip SA, Constantinescu M, Brinkman A, Hoogland ML and Sofaer J. 2018. Testing the Accuracy of Basal Occipital Measurements and their Discriminant Functions for Predicting Sex Using Four Documented Early Modern European Collections. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 10: 675–683.

  • Inskip SA. 2017. Adherence to Islamic tradition and the formation of Iberian Islam in early medieval al-Andalus. In:  Hausmair B and Jarvis B (eds.). The Archaeology of Rules. Berghahn, Oxford, pp254-272.

  • Inskip SA, Taylor GM, Anderson S, and Stewart G. 2017. Leprosy in Pre-Norman Suffolk: Biomolecular and Geochemical Analysis of the Woman from Hoxne. Journal of Medical Microbiology 66:1640-1649. 

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