Marie Danforth, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Anthropology and Sociology


My research specialization is the field of bioarchaeology, which is the study of human remains recovered in archaeological settings. Through their analysis, we are able to address questions ranging from nutrition to health to activity patterns that help in the reconstruction of the population's lifeways. I have worked with groups from a number of cultural settings, including prehistoric Native Americans from the Southeast and French Colonial immigrants at sites in both Mississippi and Michigan. In these latter groups, we are exploring the effects of colonialism on health, especially as they relate to ancestral and ethnic markers. In conducting this work, we not only use traditional methods of observation of skeletal remains, such as measurement, but also incorporating newer technologies including 3-D scanning, isotope analysis and DNA assessment.

This summer new research opportunities will open up at USM in that one of the largest Maya series will become curated here. It includes some 558 individuals from the site of a visita mission at Tipu, Belize, located on the Maya frontier and dates from approximately 1560 to 1638.

We also on occasion are involved with forensic work with local law enforcement agencies. The lab has participated in over 50 cases since 2000.

Publications since 2007:

in press In the Shadow of Moundville: A Bioarchaeological View of
the Transition to Agriculture In the Central Tombigbee
Valley of Alabama and Mississippi. Third author with K A
Shuler, S C Hodge, J L Funkhouser, C B Stantis, D N Cook,
and P Zeng. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. Early

in press Patterns of Interobserver Error in the Scoring of Entheseal
Changes. Second author with C B Davis, K A Shuler, and K
Herndon. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology. Early

2012 Upper Limb Musculoskeletal Stress Markers with the
Transition to Agriculture in the Southeastern United States:
A View from Moundville and the Central Tombigbee River
Valley of Alabama and Mississippi. Third author with K A
Shuler and Z Peng. Homo, The Journal of Comparative
Human Biology 63:413-434.

2012 A Compilation and Synthesis of Mississippi Bioarchaeology.
Mississippi Archaeology, 42:105-174. (Volume dated 2008)

2011 The Moran Site (22HR511): An Early Eighteenth Century
French Colonial Cemetery in New Biloxy, Mississippi. In
French Colonial Archaeology in the Southeast and
Caribbean, edited by M Hardy and K Kelly, pp 64-81.
University Presses of Florida, Gainesville.

2011 Challenges in Approaches to Skeletal Stature Estimation:
An Example from Prehistoric Eastern Mississippi and
Western Alabama. Second author with K A Shuler and J
Auerbach. Southeastern Archaeology, 30:377-389.

2010 Determination of Ancestry in a French Colonial Cemetery in
Biloxi, MS, Using mtDNA and Isotope Analyses. Fifth author
with D N Cook, B T Hester, M D Stephens, and T D
Hensley. Mississippi Archaeology 44:1-26.

2009 Patterns of Secular Change in the Human Mandible over
the Last Century. Second author with D C Martin.
American Journal of Human Biology 21:104-106.

2009 A Model Juvenile Growth Curve for the Ancient Maya. First
author with G D Wrobel, D Swanson and C W Armstrong.
Latin American Antiquity 20:3-13.

2008 Estimation of Handedness Using Standard Osteometrics.
First author with A Thompson. Journal of Forensic Sciences

2007 Health and the Transition to Agriculture in the Deep South:
Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. First author with K P
Jacobi, G D Wrobel, and S Glassman. In: Ancient Health:
The Skeletal Indicators of Economic and Political
Intensification edited by M N Cohen and G Kramer-Crane,
pp 61-79. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.

2007 Bioarchaeology. Second author with Shannon Chappell
Hodge. Journal of Alabama Archaeology, 53(1-2):122-138.