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Meghan Burchell

Meghan BurchellPosition

Assistant Professor
Graduate Coordinator
Adjunct Assistant Professor, McMaster University


  • Ph.D. (Anthropology), McMaster University 2013


Email: mburchell [@]
Phone: 709-864-8865
Office: QC 2016

Research Interests

My research intersects archaeology, biology and geochemistry to understand long-term human-environmental interactions. More specifically, I study the micro-structure and geochemistry of hard tissues such as shell, bone, teeth and coral to derive information on past climate, human settlement patterns and diet. The majority of my work focuses on coastal landscapes and the development of new techniques to improve seasonality and paleoclimate reconstructions using high-resolution stable isotope sclerochronology.

Regionally, I have worked on field and lab-based research projects on the coast of British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. In addition to archaeological research, I have also worked on environmental monitoring and remediation projects in Chile and the Caribbean.

My theoretical interests include hunter-gatherer settlement and subsistence economies, gender and archaeology, and the archaeology of death. Methodologically, I am interested in the application of stable isotopes and trace elements to understand past environments and populations. I am also interested in the practice of sustainable archaeology, collections management and archival-based research.

I am currently directing a 4-year SSHRC Insight Grant Project “Human-environmental interactions in the Gulf of Georgia, British Columbia: archaeological histories of seasonality, subsistence and settlement through high-resolution biogeochemistry”.

For more information, please visit the Memorial Applied Archaeological Sciences webpage here.


ARCH 1030 Introduction to Archaeology and Bioarchaeology
ARCH 2480 Introduction to Prehistoric Archaeology
ARCH 3687 The Archaeology of Death
ARCH 4994 Advanced Research and Writing

Graduate Supervision: Topics & Themes

  • Coastal landscapes in archaeology
  • Sclerochronology and palaeoenvironmental proxy development
  • Gender in archaeology
  • Mortuary archaeology
  • Hunter-gatherer subsistence and settlement
  • Geochemical applications in archaeology

Current Student Supervision


Catherine Jalbert. (in progress) "Archaeology in Canada: Surveying the Discipline". (Co-supervisor)


Natasha LeClerc. (in progress) “Stable isotope analysis and Seasonality on the Sechelt Sea”.

Tyrone Hamilton (2015) "Geochemical Analysis of Historic Iron Artifacts from Inuit sites in Southern Labrador". (Co-supervisor)

Honours Thesis

Melanie Morrision. "Catacombs, Crypts, and Castles: The role of human remains in construction between 1500-1800 AD".

Melanie Stockley. "Creating and making memories: trans-Atlantic slave burials in mortuary context".

Selected Publications

2014 Burchell, M., Hallmann, N., Schöne, BR., Cannon, A., Schwarcz, HP. Biogeochemical signatures of archaeological shells: Implications for interpreting seasonality at shell midden sites. In: The Cultural Dynamics of Shell Matrix Sites. Edited by M. Roksandic, S. Mendonça de Souza, S. Eggers, M. Burchell and D. Klokler. University of New Mexico Press. Pp. 241-250.

2014 Schwarcz, HP. Chisholm, B. Burchell, M. Isotopic Studies of the diet of the peoples of the coast of British Columbia. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 155:460-468.

2014 Burchell, M., Betts, M., Patton, A.K. Preliminary analysis of stable oxygen isotopes and shell growth in the soft-shelled clam Mya arenaria: Implications interpreting seasonality and shellfish harvesting in Port Joli Nova Scotia. North Atlantic Archaeology. 3: 91-106.

2013 Burchell, M., Hallmann, N, Martindale, A, Cannon, A, Schöne, BR. Seasonality and the intensity of shellfish harvesting on the north coast of British Columbia, Canada. The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology. 8(2):152-169.

2013 Burchell, M., Cannon, A., Hallmann, N. Schwarcz, HP., Schöne, BR. Refining estimates for the season of shellfish collection on the Pacific Northwest Coast: Applying high-resolution stable oxygen isotope analysis and sclerochronology. Archaeometry. 55(2): 258-276.

2013 Burchell, M., Cannon, A., Hallmann, N. Schwarcz, HP., Schöne, BR. Inter-site variability in the season of shellfish collection on the central coast of British Columbia. Journal of Archaeological Science. 40(1):626-636.

2013 Hallmann, N., Burchell, M., Schöne, BR, Brewster, N., Martindale, A. Holocene climate and shellfish collection at the Dundas Island Group, northern British Columbia, Canada: A bivalve sclerochronological approach. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 373(1):163-172.

2010 Risk, M., Burchell, M., de Roo, K., Nairn, R., Turbett, M. Trace elements in bivalve shells from the Rio Cruces, Chile, trace the evolution of an earthquake-impacted watershed. Aquatic Biology. 10: 85-97.

2009 Hallman, N., Burchell, M., Schöne, BR., Irvine, G., Maxwell, D. High-resolution sclerochronological analysis of the bivalve mollusk Saxidomus gigantea from Alaska and British Columbia: techniques for revealing environmental archives and archaeological seasonality. Journal of Archaeological Science. 36(10): 2353-2364.

2009 Cannon, A., Burchell, M. Clam growth-stage profiles as a measure of harvest intensity and resource management on the Central Coast of British Columbia. Journal of Archaeological Science. 36(4): 1050-1060.

2006 Burchell, M. Gender, status and grave goods in British Columbia burials. Canadian Journal of Archaeology. 30(2):252-272.