20042021

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Biography

Ronika K. Power is Professor of Bioarchaeology in the Department of Ancient History at Macquarie University, and the Director of the Centre for Ancient Cultural Heritage and Environment (CACHE). Ronika is 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, and one of the 30 inaugural Superstars of STEM for Science and Technology Australia. In 2019, Ronika was announced as the winner of the Max Crawford Medal from the Australian Academy of the Humanities; the Kwang-su Lim Early Career Award of the Union Académique Internationale, Brussels; and was named as a Tall Poppy of Science from the Australian Institute of Policy in ScienceShe 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, 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.

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). 

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

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 

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: 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. 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).

Teaching

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:

  • AHIS2301: The Archaeology of Death and Burial
  • AHIS3302: Laboratory Methods of Archaeology
  • AHIS7001: Advanced Study in Ancient History and Archaeology: Material Worlds (Archaeological Theory)

Research student supervision

Prof. Power is open to consultations regarding prospective Higher Degree Research (Masters, PhD) and Postdoctoral project primary or associate supervision in the following subject areas:

  • Biological Anthropology: Human Osteology, Palaeopathology, Radiological Methods (CT-Scanning/X-Rays); Body Modification; Bodily Differences
  • Archaeological Science: Stable Isotope Analyses; Optics and Photonics; Elemental and Mineralogical Compositions; Human Ecology; Proteomics
  • Archaeology: Material Culture; Death, Dying and Disposal; Mortuary/Funerary Behaviour; Archaeothantology; Witchcraft, Magic and Occult Practices
  • Theory: Archaeological Theory; Philosophy; Historiography; Ethics 

If you are interested in undertaking postgraduate or postdoctoral research with Prof. Power please familiarise yourself with Macquarie University's programs, pathways and funding mechanisms, and contact her via email at the address provided in the profile section, above.

External positions

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

16 Mar 202024 Apr 2020

Visiting Fellow, St Edmund's College, University of Cambridge

14 Mar 202024 Apr 2020

Invited Mentor, Australasian Women in Ancient World Studies

Jan 2020 → …

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

14 Jan 201931 Jan 2019

Elected Fellow, The Royal Society of New South Wales

2019 → …

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

20182020

Elected Fellow, Society of Antiquaries, London

2018 → …

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

20172018

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

20162020

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