Ronika Power

Associate Professor

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Personal profile


Ronika K. Power is an Associate Professor of Bioarchaeology in the Department of Ancient History at Macquarie University, an Honorary Research Fellow of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge, an elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries London and the Royal Society of New South Wales, one of the 30 inaugural Superstars of STEM for Science and Technology Australia, and the winner of the 2019 Max Crawford Medal from the Australian Academy of the Humanities. She obtained a BA Ancient History (Hons I) with the University Medal from Macquarie University; an MSc Human Osteology and Palaeopathology from the University of Bradford, UK; and a PhD in Egyptology, Archaeology, Biological Anthropology and Philosophy from Macquarie University. Her PhD was entitled From the Cradle to the Grave: Child, Infant and Foetal Burials in the Egyptian Archaeological Record from the Early Dynastic Period to the Middle Kingdom (ca.3300-1650 BC).

From 2012-2016, A/Prof. Power was a European Research Council (ERC) Research Fellow and Research Associate of Darwin College, based at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge. She has worked with archaeologically-derived human remains from across the world, and is the primary/consultant human osteologist for the ERC-funded Trans-Sahara Project (pre-Islamic Libyan Sahara); ERC-funded In-Africa Project (late Holocene Kenya); the Egypt Exploration Society-funded Sesebi Project (New Kingdom Egyptian colonial site, Northern Sudan); ERC-funded Crossroads of Empires Project (medieval Benin); Leverhulme Trust-funded Cowrie Shells: An Early Global Commodity project (post-14thCentury Maldives); and the Dendera Project (multi-period Egypt). She is the principal researcher of the Population History Workgroup of the ERC-funded FRAGSUS Project (in collaboration with Queen’s University Belfast and the Universities of Cambridge and Malta, Heritage Malta and the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage Malta), in which her team is analysing the health, disease, lifestyle, diet and affinity profiles of the Neolithic human skeletal assemblage from the Xaghra Circle Hypogeum, Gozo, Malta. 

A/Prof. Power was also the Director of the Education Partnership for the British Museum’s world premiere showing of the Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives exhibition at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Ultimo (December 2016 – April 2017). 

A/Prof. Power has international publications across a variety of media in the fields of Bioarchaeology, Biological Anthropology, Archaeology, Egyptology, Sociology and Learning and Teaching, and achieved the cover of Nature for her work on the late Holocene massacre at Nataruk, Kenya (January 2016). This research was named as one of the Top Ten Discoveries of 2016 by Archaeology Magazine.

Research interests

A/Prof. Power’s research platform aligns with biocultural archaeological approaches, whereby data derived from scientific analyses of the human body is interpreted in conjunction with all other forms of archaeological and historical evidence to provide meaningful insights into the demography, health, diet, environment, life-ways and world-views of individuals and groups from past populations. To achieve this aim, she applies an interdisciplinary research methodology that incorporates the following fields: 

  • Biological Anthropology: Human Osteology, Palaeopathology, Dental Anthropology, 3D Geometric Morphometrics, CT-Scanning, X-Rays
  • Archaeological Science: Stable Isotope Analyses (Human Migration, Mobility, Palaeodiet and Palaeoenvironment)
  • Archaeology: Material Culture, Mortuary Behaviour
  • History: Textual Analyses
  • Theory: Philosophy, Historiography and Ethics 

A/Prof. Power has applied this research methodology to various geographically and temporally diverse populations from across the world: from early Holocene hunter-gatherers of Kenya; to megalithic temple builders of Neolithic Malta; multi-period cemeteries across Egypt; the Garamantes of the pre-Islamic Libyan Sahara; Amarna Period Egyptian colonies in Nubia; Late Anglo-Saxon England child, infant and foetal burials; settlement interments in Medieval Benin; and post-14thCentury palace burials from the Maldives, to name a few.

Mummies: A/Prof. Power has a particular interest in the curation, display and scientific and cultural analyses of mummified human remains from all geographical and temporal contexts, but especially those of ancient Egypt. Using the same interdisciplinary approach described above, she searches for insights into the suite of religious, cultural, technological, socioeconomic and environmental impetuses that gave rise to the many and varied expressions of this phenomenon across cultures. She is also interested in the modern history of mummy studies and engages museological and historiographical research to explore the insatiable public and scientific desire for direct engagement with these individuals from the past who 'live' among us. A/Prof. Power was the Director of the Education Partnership for the British Museum’s world premiere showing of the Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives exhibition at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Ultimo (December 2016 – April 2017).


A/Prof. Power has taught across a range of subjects for Macquarie University, the University of Cambridge, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Malta, Superintendence of Cultural Heritage Malta, and the New South Wales Department of Forensic Medicine (including Bioarchaeology, Biological Anthropology, Human Skeletal Anatomy and Pathology, Applied Anatomy and Forensic Pathology, Archaeology of Death and Mortuary Practices, Archaeological Science, Histology, Archaeological Theory, Historiography, History of Science, Egyptian Archaeology, Egyptian Religion, World Archaeology and Academic Development). She is the recipient of numerous awards for excellence in university teaching and was the first person in Australian history to receive a national award for tertiary teaching while still a doctoral student.

At Macquarie University, she currently convenes the following units of study:

  • AHIS291: The Archaeology of Death and Burial
  • AHIS391: Laboratory Methods of Archaeology
  • AHIS710: Principles of Archaeological Theory

External positions

Visiting Fellow, Department of Archaeology and Palaeoecology, Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland

14 Jan 201931 Jan 2019

Elected Fellow, Royal Society of NSW

2019 → …

Invited Mentor, Superstars of STEM (2018-2020 Cohort), Science and Technology Australia


Elected Fellow, Society of Antiquaries, London

2018 → …

Superstars of STEM (Inaugural Appointee), Science and Technology Australia


Honorary Fellow of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge


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Projects 2016 2020

Research Outputs 2004 2019

Becoming Osiris: restoration and elite emulation of a mummy from Late New Kingdom Egypt

Sowada, K., Power, R., Jacobsen, G., Murphy, T., Bertuch, F., Jenkinson, A., Carruthers, J. & Magnussen, J. S., 4 Jun 2019, (Submitted) In : Antiquity.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Human mobility and identity: variation, diet and migration in relation to the Garamantes of Fazzan

Power, R. K., Nikita, E., Mattingly, D. J., Mirazón Lahr, M. & O'Connell, T. C., 2019, Burials, migration and identity in the ancient Sahara and beyond. Gatto, M. C., Mattingly, D. J., Ray, N. & Sterry, M. (eds.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 134-161 28 p. (Trans-Saharan Archaeology; vol. 2).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review

Human skeletal material

Power, R. K. & Haour, A., 2019, Two thousand years in Dendi, Northern Benin: archaeology, history and memory. Haour, A. (ed.). Leiden ; Boston: Brill, p. 254-279 26 p. (Journal of African Archaeology Monograph Series; vol. 13).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review

Island questions: the chronology of the Brochtorff Circle at Xagħra, Gozo, and its significance for the Neolithic sequence on Malta

Malone, C., Cutajar, N., McLaughlin, T. R., Mercieca-Spiteri, B., Pace, A., Power, R. K., Stoddart, S., Sultana, S., Bronk Ramsey, C., Dunbar, E., Bayliss, A., Healy, F. & Whittle, A., Aug 2019, In : Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences. 11, 8, p. 4251-4306 56 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
social development
Computed Tomography

Press / Media

Mystery Mummy

John Magnussen, Ronika Power & Yann Tristant


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Public Engagement Activities