Dr Louise Humphrey

Photo of Louise Humphrey
  • Researcher
  • Earth Sciences department
  • Vertebrates and Anthropology Palaeobiology
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road


Current role

Researcher in Human Origins, Natural History Museum


PhD   Biological Anthropology, University of Cambridge (1994)

BSc   Institute of Archaeology, University College London (1990).

Professional Roles

External Funding

2012  Calleva Foundation donation for Human Origins Research. Project Co-Director with Chris Stringer and Silvia Bello.

2010  NERC Radiocarbon Facility “Dating Iberomaurusian burials from Taforalt Cave, Morocco”. Co applicant with N Barton.

2009  NERC Radiocarbon Facility “Dating the late Middle Palaeolithic and Epipalaeolithic sequence at Taforalt Cave, Morocco”. Co applicant with N Barton. (2009).

2009  Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. “Analysis of microstructural growth markers in teeth using IFM”. Sponsor of research fellow Lesley Harrington.

2008  Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant  “Cemeteries and sedentism in the epipalaeolithic of North Africa”.   Co-Investigator with Nick Barton (PI, Oxford) and Martin Bell (Co-I, Reading)

2005  Emory University Research Committee. “Longitudinal analysis of weaning in an Old World Monkey”. Co-investigator with Wendy Dirks (Emory) (2005).

2005  Royal Society conference grant.

1998  Wellcome Trust Fellowship “Evaluation of enamel hypoplasia as an indicator of childhood stress”. Supervisor of research fellow Tania King.

Editorial Board

Bulletins et Mémoires de la Société d'Anthropologie de Paris


Cemeteries and Sedentism in North Africa

Excavations at Grotte des Pigeons at Taforalt.

Excavations at Grotte des Pigeons at Taforalt.

This project focuses on the Iberomaurusian period in Morocco, approximately 18,000 and 9,000 years ago. Archaeological deposits at Grotte des Pigeons at Taforalt in Eastern Morocco record a marked intensification of human activity at around 15,000 cal BP, with the rapid accumulation of ashy midden layers containing vast amounts burnt bone and lithic artefacts, charred plant remains and shells of edible snails.  

Direct dates on human bone showed that the elaborate burials located in a demarcated area towards the rear of the cave in a spatially coincide with the inception of the midden deposits. 

Evidence for systematic harvesting and processing of wild food resources, including acorns, pine nuts and molluscs, basket making, the potential use of grindstones in food preparation and elaborate funerary behaviour demonstrates that the late Iberomaurusian inhabitants of Taforalt were complex hunter-gatherers. Ongoing research is exploring the implications of this lifestyle for human health.

Archaeological archives and newly excavated burials are yielding further insights into Iberomaurusian funerary activity and treatment of the body in life and in death. This project continues a long standing collaboration between INSAP (Rabat), Oxford University and the Natural History Museum, and is funded by the Calleva Foundation.

Tooth Enamel as an Archive of Early Life Experiences

Deciduous teeth represent an enduring archive of an individual’s health, diet and environmental exposures during gestation and infancy and a record of the circumstances of birth. This evidence is literally embedded into the growing enamel and provides the key to understanding human life histories.

Ongoing research on naturally shed deciduous teeth donated by Children enrolled on the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children is exploring how evidence of infant health and diet is reflected in enamel growth, structure, and chemical composition. This collaborative project involves researchers at the Natural History Museum, UCL and Bristol University and is funded by the Calleva Foundation.



Humphrey LT, De Groote I, Morales J, Barton N, Collcutt S, Bronk Ramsey C & Bouzouggar A (2014). Earliest evidence for caries and exploitation of starchy plant foods in Pleistocene hunter-gatherers from Morocco. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111:954-959.


Ibrahim YK, Tshen LT, Westaway KE, Cranbrook EO, Humphrey L, Muhammad RF. Zhao J-X & Peng LC. 2013. First discovery of Pleistocene orangutan (Pongo sp.) fossils in Peninsular Malaysia: Biogeographic and paleoenvironmental implications. Journal of Human Evolution 2013;65:770.


Humphrey, L., Bello, S.M., Turner, E., Bouzouggar, A., & Barton, N. (2012) Iberomaurusian funerary behaviour: Evidence from Grotte des Pigeons, Taforalt, Morocco. Journal of Human Evolution 62(2):261-273.

Humphrey, L., Bello, S., & Rousham, E. (2012) Sex differences in infant mortality in Spitalfields, London 1750-1839.Journal of Biosocial Science 44(01):95-119.


Wilson, L.A., Cardoso, H.F., & Humphrey, L.T. (2011) On the reliability of a geometric morphometric approach to sex determination: A blind test of six criteria of the juvenile ilium. Forensic Science International 206(1-3):35-42.

De Groote, I., Humphrey, L.T. (2011) Body mass and stature estimation based on the first metatarsal. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 144:625-632

Nitsch, E.K., Humphrey, L.T., & Hedges, R.E.M. (2011) Using Stable Isotope Analysis to Examine the Effect of Economic Change on Breastfeeding Practices in Spitalfields, London, UK. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 146(4):619-628.

Daskalaki, E., Anderung, C., Humphrey, L., & Gotherstrom, A. (2011) Further developments in molecular sex assignment: a blind test of 18th and 19th century human skeletons. Journal of Archaeological Science 38(6):1326-1330.


Nitsch, E., Humphrey, L., & Hedges, R. (2010) The effect of parity status on δ15N: looking for the "pregnancy effect" in 18th and 19th century London. Journal of Archaeological Science 37:3191-3199. Journal of Archaeological Science 37(12):3191-3199.

Humphrey, L.T. (2010) Weaning behaviour in human evolution. Seminars in Cell & Developmental Biology 21(4):453-461.

Dirks, W., Humphrey, L.T., Dean, M.C., & Jeffries, T.E. (2010) The Relationship of Accentuated Lines in Enamel to Weaning Stress in Juvenile Baboons (Papio hamadryas anubis). Folia Primatologica 81(4):207-223.

Bocaege, E., Humphrey, L., & Hillson, S. (2010) Technical note: A new three-dimensional technique for high resolution quantitative recording of perikymata. American journal of physical anthropology 141(3): 498-503.


Dirks, W., Humphrey, L.T., Dean, M.C., & Jeffries, T.E. (2009) Accentuated lines in baboon tooth enamel reflect weaning stress. American Journal of Physical Anthropology:119-120.


Wilson, L.A., MacLeod, N., & Humphrey, L.T. (2008) Morphometric criteria for sexing juvenile human skeletons using the ilium. Journal of forensic sciences 53(2):269-278.

Humphrey, L.T., Jeffries, T.E. & Dean, M.C. (2008) Micro spatial distributions of lead and zinc in human deciduous tooth enamel. In: J.D. Irish and G.C. Nelson (eds) Technique and Application in Dental Anthropology. Cambridge University Press, pp 87-110.

Humphrey, L.T., Dirks, W., Dean, M.C., & Jeffries, T.E. (2008) Tracking dietary transitions in weanling baboons (Papio hamadryas anubis) using strontium/calcium ratios in enamel. Folia Primatologica 79(4):197-212.

Humphrey, L.T., Dean M.C., Jeffries T.E. and Penn, M. (2008) Unlocking evidence of early diet from tooth enamel. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105: 6834-6839.

Humphrey, L.T., Dirks, W., Dean, M.C. & Jeffries, T.E.  (2008) Tracking dietary transitions in weanling baboons (Papio hamadryas anubis) using strontium/calcium ratios in enamel. Folia Primatologica 79:197-212.

Humphrey, L.T., Jeffries T.E. and Dean M.C. (2008) Micro spatial distributions of lead and zinc in human deciduous tooth enamel. In: J.D. Irish and G.C. Nelson (eds) Technique and Application in Dental Anthropology. Cambridge University Press, pp 87-110.

Humphrey, L.T. (2008) Enamel traces of early lifetime events. In: Between Biology and Culture. (ed.) H. Schultkowski. Cambridge University Press, pp. 186-206.

Barton, R.N.E., Bouzouggar, A., Humphrey, L.T. , Berridge, P., Collcutt, S.N., Gale, R., Parfitt, S., Parker, A.G., Rhodes, E.J., Schwenninger, J.L. (2008) Human burial evidence from Hattab II Cave (Oued Laou-Tétuoan, Morocco) and the question of continuity in Late Pleistocene-Holocene mortuary practices in Northwest Africa. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 18: 195-214.

Bouzouggar, A., Barton, R.N.E., Blockley, S., Bronk-Ramsey, C., Collcutt, S.N., Gale, R., Humphrey, L.T.,   Parfitt, S., Turner, E., Ward, S. (2008) Re-evaluating the age of the Iberomaurusian in Morocco. African Archaeological Review 25: 3-19.

Humphrey, L.T. & Bocaege, E. (2008) Tooth evulsion in the Maghreb: chronological and geographical patterns. African Archaeological Review 25:109-123.

Humphrey, L.T. & Andrews, P. (2008) Metric variation in the post-canine teeth from Paşalar, Turkey. Journal of Human Evolution 54: 503-517.

Wilson, L.A., MacLeod, N. & Humphrey, L.T. (2008) Morphometric criteria for sexing juvenile human skeletons using the ilium. Journal of Forensic Sciences 53: 269-278.


Bello, S.M. & Humphrey, L.T. (2007) The funerary behaviour and the social value of children in a proto-industrial urban population from London during the 18th and 19th centuries. British Archaeological Review 1712 24-31.

Barton, R.N.E., Bouzouggar, A., Bronk-Ramsey, C., Collcutt, S.N., Higham, T.F.G., Humphrey, L.T., Parfitt, S., Rhodes, E.J., Schwenninger, J.L., Stringer, C.B. & Ward, S. (2007) Abrupt climatic change and chronology of the Upper Palaeolithic in northern and eastern Morocco. In: P. Mellars, C. Stringer, O. Bar-Yosef & K. Boyle (eds) Rethinking the Human Revolution. McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research Monograph series, Cambridge, pp. 177-186.

Humphrey, L.T., Dean, M.C. & Jeffries, T.E.  (2007) An evaluation of changes in strontium/calcium ratios across the neonatal line in human deciduous teeth. In Dental Perspectives on Human Evolution: State of the Art Research in Dental Anthropology, ed. S.E. Bailey and J.J. Hublin. Springer, pp. 301-317.

Bayliss, A., Benson, D., Galer, D., Humphrey, L., McFadyen. L., & Whittle, A. (2007) One thing after another: the date of the Ascott-under-Wychwood long barrow. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 17:1 (suppl.) 29-44


Humphrey, L.T. & Scheuer, L. (2006) Age of closure of the foramen of Huschke: an osteological study. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 16: 47-60.


King, T., Humphrey, L.T. & Hillson, S. (2005) Linear enamel hypoplasias as indicators of systemic physiological stress: evidence from two known age-at-death and sex populations from Post-Medieval London. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 128: 547-559.

Barton, R.N.E., Bouzouggar, J., Collcutt, S.N., Gale, R., Higham, T.F.G., Humphrey, L.T., Parfitt, S., Rhodes, E., Stringer, C.B., & Malek, F. (2005) The late Upper Palaeolithic occupation of the Moroccan Northwest Maghreb during the last glacial maximum. African Archaeological Review 22: 77-100.


Humphrey L.T. (2003) Linear growth variation in the archaeological record. In: J.L. Thompson, Krovitz, G.E. and Nelson A.J. (eds) Patterns of growth variation in the genus Homo. Cambridge University Press, pp 144-169.

Trinkaus, E., Humphrey, L.T., Stringer, C.B., Churchill, S.E. & Tague, R.G., (2003) The age and sex of Gough’s Cave 1. Bulletin of the Natural History Museum Geology Series 58 (supp): 45-50.


Rousham, E.K. & Humphrey, L.T. (2002) The dynamics of child survivorship. In: MacBeth, H., and Collinson, P. (eds). Human Population Dynamics. Cambridge University Press, pp 124-140.

King, T., Hillson, S. & Humphrey, L.T. (2002) A detailed study of enamel hypoplasia in a post-medieval adolescent of known age and sex. Archives of Oral Biology 47: 29-39.

Humphrey, L.T. & Stringer, C.B. (2002) Cranial remains from Gough’s Cave. Bulletin of the Natural History Museum Geology Series 58: 153-68.


Humphrey, L.T. (2000). Growth studies of past populations: an overview and an example. In: S. Mays, and M. Cox (eds) Human osteology in archaeology and forensic science. Greenwich Medical Media, pp 23-38.

Humphrey, L.T. & King, T. (2000) Childhood stress: a lifetime legacy. Anthropologie 38:33-49.

Humphrey, L.T. (2000). Interpretation of the growth of past populations. In: Sofaer Derevenski, J. (ed) Children and Material Culture. London: Routledge, pp. 193-205.


Andrews, P. & Humphrey, L.T. (1999). African Miocene environments and the transition to early hominines. In: Bromage, T. & Schrenk, F. (eds). African Biogeography, Climate Change and Early Hominid Evolution. Oxford University Press, pp 282-300.

Humphrey, L.T., Dean, M.C. & Stringer, C.B., (1999). Morphological variation in great ape and modern human mandibles. Journal of Anatomy 195:491-513.

Humphrey, L.T. (1999). Relative mandibular growth in humans, gorillas and chimpanzees. In: Hoppa, R and Fitzgerald, C. (eds) Human Growth in the Past. Cambridge University Press, pp. 65-97.


Fernandez-Jalvo, Y., Denys, C., Andrews, P., Williams. T., Dauphin, Y. & Humphrey, L. (1998). Taphonomy and palaeoecology of Olduvai Bed-I (Pleistocene, Tanzania). Journal of Human Evolution 34: 137-172.

Humphrey, L.T. (1998). Patterns of growth in the modern human skeleton. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 105: 57-72.


Stringer, C., Humphrey, L.T. & Compton, T. (1997). Cladistic analysis of dental traits in recent humans using a fossil outgroup. Journal of Human Evolution 31: 388-402.


Fortelius, M., Werdelin, L., Andrews, P., Bernor, R.L., Gentry, A., Humphrey, L., Mittmann, W., & Viranta, S. (1996). Provinciality, diversity, turnover and paleoecology in land mammal faunas of the later Miocene of Western Eurasia. In: Bernor, R.L., Fahlbusch, V. & Mittmann, H.-W., (eds) The Evolution of Western Eurasian Neogene Mammal Faunas. New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 414-448.