Menu Close

Jenefer Metcalfe

Lecturer in Biomedical Egyptology, University of Manchester

My background in both ancient history and archaeological science is quite multidisciplinary, something which reflects itself in my research interests, and allows me to combine archaeological, historical and scientific sources in my work.

The Archaeological Survey of Nubia

The first Archaeological Survey of Nubia (or ASN) was one of the earliest rescue archaeology projects to take place and also one of the first large-scale studies of the ancient Nubian population. Due largely to the efforts of Sir Grafton Elliot Smith many of the human remains that were found during the excavation were retained for future study. The ASN material is extremely important as it includes many rare examples of disease and remains largely provenanced, something which is very rare in a collection of this age. Sadly, the human remains are now spread throughout the world. I am currently trying to bring this collection back together virtually and reunite the human remains with their archaeological and historical provenance.

Radiocarbon dating and artefact provenance

The issue of artefact provenance and dating is a particular research interest, and was the subject of my PhD. Radiocarbon dating has the potential to clarify a number of questions we have about the chronology of ancient Egypt, the development of mummification and the environmental changes that affected North Africa during the pharaonic period. The technique is currently under-exploited in this area due to problems in the past with poor sample choice and preservation issues. I am interested in the development of protocols for sample selection in this research area, in particular for the dating of Egyptian mummies. One aspect of this research that I hope to develop is the issue of taphonomy and the effects this has on artefact survival and suitability for long-term study.

Dietary sources in ancient Egypt and Nubia

A long-term research interest is ancient Egyptian and Nubian diet and the impact that influences such as political or environmental change may have. Although changes that have the potential to have affected food availability are well documented from both areas, the impact these have actually had on humans or animals are unknown. I am interested in whether stable isotope analysis of well-provenanced samples can begin to alter this picture and if isotopic studies of food sources themselves can refine our understanding of ancient human diet.


  • –present
    Lecturer in Biomedical Egyptology, University of Manchester