Portrait of Dr Emmy Bocaege

Dr Emmy Bocaege

British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow


Dr Emmy Bocaege received her PhD from University College London in 2015 researching childhood growth at the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Turkey. Before coming to the University of Kent, she conducted research at the Royal College of Surgeons and was an Initiative d’Excellence (IDEX) Postdoctoral Research Fellow at PACEA, University of Bordeaux (France). 

Dr Bocaege has participated in field excavations at archaeological sites in Turkey, Jordan, Greece and Spain. Her current research interests include:

  • modern human skeletal and dental variability
  • biocultural interactions during the transition to agriculture
  • 3D imaging and histological techniques applied to dental anthropology.

At the University of Kent, Emmy will be working as a British Academy postdoctoral fellow, looking at the growth mechanisms that facilitated dental reduction during the development from a hunter-gatherer to a farming lifestyle in the Epipalaeolithic-Neolithic Near East.



  • Larsen, C. et al. (2019). Bioarchaeology of Neolithic Çatalhöyük Reveals Fundamental Transitions in Health, Mobility, and Lifestyle in Early Farmers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [Online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1904345116.
    The transition from a human diet based exclusively on wild plants and animals to one involving dependence on domesticated plants and animals beginning 10,000 to 11,000 y ago in Southwest Asia set into motion a series of profound health, lifestyle, social, and economic changes affecting human populations throughout most of the world. However, the social, cultural, behavioral, and other factors surrounding health and lifestyle associated with the foraging-to-farming transition are vague, owing to an incomplete or poorly understood contextual archaeological record of living conditions. Bioarchaeological investigation of the extraordinary record of human remains and their context from Neolithic Çatalhöyük (7100–5950 cal BCE), a massive archaeological site in south-central Anatolia (Turkey), provides important perspectives on population dynamics, health outcomes, behavioral adaptations, interpersonal conflict, and a record of community resilience over the life of this single early farming settlement having the attributes of a protocity. Study of Çatalhöyük human biology reveals increasing costs to members of the settlement, including elevated exposure to disease and labor demands in response to community dependence on and production of domesticated plant carbohydrates, growing population size and density fueled by elevated fertility, and increasing stresses due to heightened workload and greater mobility required for caprine herding and other resource acquisition activities over the nearly 12 centuries of settlement occupation. These changes in life conditions foreshadow developments that would take place worldwide over the millennia following the abandonment of Neolithic Çatalhöyük, including health challenges, adaptive patterns, physical activity, and emerging social behaviors involving interpersonal violence.
  • D’Ortenzio, L. et al. (2017). The rachitic tooth: The use of radiographs as a screening technique. International Journal of Paleopathology [Online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpp.2017.10.001.
    This study investigates morphological changes in pulp chambers of living and archaeological individuals with past vitamin D deficiency. Living individuals (n = 29), four with detailed medical and dental records and three groups of archaeological individuals (n = 25) were radiographed; selected individuals were further evaluated histologically for the presence of incremental interglobular dentin (IIGD), indicative of deficiency (28 living; 17 archaeological). Measurements of pulp horns/chambers from radiographs were conducted to quantify morphological observations. One group had clear skeletal evidence of rickets from St. Matthew, Quebec (n = 1) and St. Jacques, France (n = 4); a second group had slight skeletal indicators from Bastion des Ursulines, Quebec (n = 6); and a third group lacked both skeletal and radiological evidence of deficiency from St. Antoine (n = 6) and Pointe-aux-Trembles (n = 4). Results showed archaeological individuals with clear and slight skeletal evidence of past deficiency displayed constricted or chair shaped pulp horns. Living individuals with deficiency exhibited similar pulp chamber morphology. Radiographic pulp horn/chamber measurements corroborated morphological findings and significant differences were found in pulp horn/chamber measurements between those with and without deficiency. Results suggest that radiograph assessment of teeth can be used as a screening technique to elucidate patterns of deficiency and select individuals for microCT or histological assessment.
  • Richter, T. et al. (2016). Shubayqa 6: a new Late Natufian and Pre-Pottery Neolithic A settlement in north-east Jordan. Antiquity [Online] 90:e2. Available at: https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2016.182.
    The Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA; c. 9600–8500 cal BC) period in the Levant provides the earliest confirmed evidence for plant cultivation anywhere in the world, marking a significant escalation in the human management of plants towards fully fledged agricultural food production. Until now, the majority of PPNA sites have been documented in the Jordan Valley, the Wadi Araba and farther north along the Upper Euphrates (e.g. Mureybet, Jerf el-Ahmar, Djade). By contrast, few PPNA sites have so far been reported from the semi-arid to arid eastern part of the Levantine interior. Among these is El Aoui Safa (Coqueugniot & Anderson 1996) and sporadic flint scatters elsewhere in the Harra. Recent fieldwork in the Qa’ Shubayqa area in the Harra has produced the first evidence for a more substantial settlement site in this region.
  • Bocaege, E. and Humphrey, L. (2016). Lateral enamel growth in human incisors from Çatalhöyük in Turkey. American Journal of Physical Anthropology [Online] 161:656-666. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.23069.
    Whereas the differences in lateral enamel growth between fossil and modern populations have been well documented in recent years, few studies report on the variability in perikymata counts and distribution between modern human populations. There is a need for information on modern human populations from a wide range of geographical regions and archaeological populations to determine whether existing patterns are representative. The aim of this paper is to document enamel surface microstructures in human teeth from a previously unknown region and time period comprehensively.
  • Bocaege, E. and Hillson, S. (2016). Disturbances and noise: Defining furrow-form enamel hypoplasia. American Journal of Physical Anthropology [Online] 161:744-751. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.23070.
    The investigation of the record of growth locked in dental enamel provides a unique opportunity to build a comprehensive picture of growth disruption episodes during childhood. This study presents a new methodological basis for the analysis of enamel growth disruptions (enamel hypoplasia) using incremental microstructures of enamel.

    A three?dimensional technique based upon use of an Alicona 3D Infinite Focus imaging microscope and software is used to record developmental features in the enamel of human permanent mandibular lateral incisors of one individual from the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük (Turkey). Using this new technique, perikymata are measured down the longitudinal axis of the crown from the incisal margin to the cervix and perikyma spacing profiles are constructed with this new technique. A mathematical basis for the detection of spacing anomalies, which serve as indicators of enamel hypoplasia is presented based upon these profiles.

    Three clearly delineated defects were identified visually, then matched and confirmed metrically using the enamel surface and perikyma spacing profiles.

    Human growth has often been used as an indicator of health in past societies because of developmental sensitivity to fluctuations in nutritional status and disease load. Hence, standardization of furrow?form defect identification is of crucial importance for reducing the amount of current subjectivity in the determination of a threshold for the identification of defects among individuals of past populations. The method presented here, which is based on microscopic images of the tooth crown as well as recorded measurements of incremental structures, represents a combined visual?metric approach using LOWESS residuals, and as such provides a substantial advancement to previous methods. It is therefore recommended that additional studies be carried out with this methodology to determine whether this method improves the reliability of enamel defect identification among individuals recovered from bioarchaeological contexts.
  • Downey, S. et al. (2014). The Neolithic Demographic Transition in Europe: Correlation with Juvenility Index Supports Interpretation of the Summed Calibrated Radiocarbon Date Probability Distribution (SCDPD) as a Valid Demographic Proxy. PLoS ONE [Online] 9:e105730. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0105730.
    Analysis of the proportion of immature skeletons recovered from European prehistoric cemeteries has shown that the transition to agriculture after 9000 BP triggered a long-term increase in human fertility. Here we compare the largest analysis of European cemeteries to date with an independent line of evidence, the summed calibrated date probability distribution of radiocarbon dates (SCDPD) from archaeological sites. Our cemetery reanalysis confirms increased growth rates after the introduction of agriculture; the radiocarbon analysis also shows this pattern, and a significant correlation between both lines of evidence confirms the demographic validity of SCDPDs. We analyze the areal extent of Neolithic enclosures and demographic data from ethnographically known farming and foraging societies and we estimate differences in population levels at individual sites. We find little effect on the overall shape and precision of the SCDPD and we observe a small increase in the correlation with the cemetery trends. The SCDPD analysis supports the hypothesis that the transition to agriculture dramatically increased demographic growth, but it was followed within centuries by a general pattern of collapse even after accounting for higher settlement densities during the Neolithic. The study supports the unique contribution of SCDPDs as a valid demographic proxy for the demographic patterns associated with early agriculture.


  • Richter, T. et al. (2019). Ochre, ground stone and wrapping the dead in the Late Epipalaeolithic (Natufian) Levant: revealing the funerary practices at Shubayqa 1, Jordan. Journal of Field Archaeology.
    The appearance of rich and diverse funerary practices is one of the hallmarks of the Late Epipalaeolithic Natufian in the Levant. Numerous burials at a number of sites excavated mostly in the Mediterranean zone of the southern Levant have fed into the interpretation of the Natufian as a sedentary society of complex hunter-gatherers. Here, we report on the human remains recovered from Shubayqa 1, a well-dated early to late Natufian site in northeast Jordan. The majority of the minimum of 23 individuals that are represented are perinates and infants, which represents an atypical population profile. Ground stone artifacts and traces of colourants are associated with some of these individuals, providing a rare insight into funerary treatment of subadults in Natufian contexts. We interpret the Shubayqa 1 evidence in the light of current and ongoing debates concerning Natufian burial practices and the issue of social complexity.
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