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Brenda J. Baker
Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, 1992
Associate Professor

SHESC Themes:Biological, Social and Cultural Dimensions of Human Health; Global Dynamics and Regional Interactions

Field specializations: physical anthropology, bioarchaeology, human osteology, paleopathology

Regional focus: North Africa, North America (Midwest, Northeast, Southwest)


Brenda Baker's principal research interests are in bioarchaeology, human osteology and paleopathology. Her specialty is examining human skeletal remains to reconstruct past lifeways and the health status of ancient people. Dr. Baker has participated in excavations in the southwestern, midwestern, and northeastern US and in Egypt. She has been the Physical Anthropologist for the University of Pennsylvania Museum-Yale University-Institute of Fine Arts, New York University Expedition to Abydos since 1988, conducting burial excavation and analysis of human remains from both cemetery and settlement contexts at this important ancient Egyptian site. Other research interests include the impact of contact between Europeans and Native Americans through analyses of health status and mortuary practices, and the differential diagnosis of disease in past populations, particularly concerning treponematosis and tuberculosis.

Dr. Baker did her undergraduate work at Northwestern University and her graduate training at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her dissertation was on Collagen Composition in Human Skeletal Remains from the NAX Cemetery (A.D. 350-550) in Lower Nubia. Brenda Baker has also taught at Tufts University (1992) and Moorhead State University (1993-94) and was director of the repatriation program and Curator of Human Osteology at the New York State Museum from 1994-1998.

She is senior author of a forthcoming book on The Osteology of Infants and Children (Texas A&M University Press, Fall 2005), building on her experience with well-preserved subadult burials in Egypt. She has published extensively on paleopathology, the consequences of contact, and on her work in Egypt.

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Select Publications
Baker, Brenda J., Tosha L. Dupras, Matthew W. Tocheri, and Sandra M. Wheeler (in press)
The Osteology of Infants and Children. Texas A&M University Press. Publication Fall 2005.

Baker, Brenda J., and Lisa Kealhofer, editors (1996)
Bioarchaeology of Native American Adaptation in the Spanish Borderlands. The Ripley P. Bullen Series. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.

Baker, Brenda J. (2005)
Patterns of Pre- and Post-Columbian Treponematosis in the Northeastern United States. In Debunking the Myth of Syphilis, The Natural History of Treponematosis in North America, edited by Mary Lucas Powell and Della C. Cook, pp. 119-144. University Press of Florida, Gainesville. In press.

Baker, Brenda J. (2001)
Secrets in the Skeletons: Disease and Deformity Attest the Hazards of Daily Life. Archaeology54(3):47. In feature on "Egypt's Sacred Sands: Uncovering Ancient Abydos," pp. 42-49,

Baker, Brenda J., Tamara L. Varney, Richard G. Wilkinson, Lisa M. Anderson, and Maria A. Liston (2001).
Repatriation and the Study of Human Remains. In The Future of the Past: Archaeologists, Native Americans, and Repatriation, edited by Tamara Bray, pp. 69-89. Garland Publishing, New York.

Baker, Brenda J., and Christina B. Rieth (2000)
Beyond the Massacre: Historic and Prehistoric Activity at Fort William Henry. Northeast Anthropology 60:45-61.

Baker, Brenda J. (1999)
Early Manifestations of Tuberculosis in the Skeleton. In Tuberculosis: Past and Present, edited by Gyrgy P lfi, Olivier Dutour, Judith Dek, and Imre Huts, pp. 299-307. Golden Book and Tuberculosis Foundation, Szeged, Hungary.

Baker, Brenda J. (1997)
Contributions of Biological Anthropology to the Understanding of Ancient Egyptian and Nubian Societies. In Anthropology and Egyptology: A Developing Dialogue, edited by Judith Lustig, pp. 106-116. Monographs in Mediterranean Archaeology 8. Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield, England.

Baker, Brenda J. (1994)
Pilgrim's Progress and Praying Indians: The Biocultural Consequences of Contact in Southern New England. In In the Wake of Contact: Biological Responses to Conquest, edited by Clark S. Larsen and George R. Milner, pp. 35-45. Wiley Liss, New York.

Baker, Brenda J., and George J. Armelagos (1988)
The Origin and Antiquity of Syphilis: Paleopathological Diagnosis and Interpretation. Current Anthropology 29(5):703 737.

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Curriculum Vitae Download PDF

Contact: Brenda Baker