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Veronica Tamorri comes to Leiden with a Marie Skłodowska-Curie post-doctoral fellowship

Since November 2022, Veronica Tamorri has been a new face at the Faculty of Archaeology. Originally from Rome, she joined the Faculty with a two-year Marie Skłodowska-Curie post-doctoral fellowship. Here she is studying human remains from early Egypt and Nubia (Sudan) using bioarchaeological methodologies. ‘Dr Sarah Schrader and the Laboratory for Human Osteoarchaeology are the reasons why I went for Leiden. I wanted to work with Dr Schrader specifically because she’s an expert in both bioarchaeology and Egypt/Nubia.’

Predynastic tombs

Veronica Tamorri obtained her BA in Egyptology at the Sapienza University of Rome, after which she did a Master’s degree at the UCL Institute of Archaeology in London. ‘I’ve always been interested in funerary archaeology and Predynastic Egypt. I further developed such interests during my PhD at Durham University. There, I re-examined the excavation documentation of over 3000 Predynastic tombs with a methodology called archaeothanatology. This method focuses on the taphonomic processes that impact human remains from their initial deposition in the tomb to their archaeological excavation. Among other things, I was able to determine that the so-called body manipulation practices, identified in some Predynastic tombs by excavators in the late 19th century, were, in fact, the result of taphonomic processes related to decomposition.’

A wide understanding

The Faculty of Archaeology hosts a state-of-the-art Laboratory for Human Osteoarchaeology and expertise to match. ‘This is why I chose Leiden as my host Institution. In my MSCA project, I investigate the lives of women in early Egypt and Nubia by combining different bioarcheological approaches such as the study of entheseal changes – a method in which my supervisor Dr Schrader is a leading expert –, dental analysis, paleopathology, etc. as well as archaeothanatology.’

Aside from contributing to knowledge on the specific time period and region, Veronica Tamorri’s research will raise awareness of a portion of the population that has been understudied in this context. ‘There is not a lot of research done on women in the early Nile Valley, so by looking at activity levels, nutrition, burial rituals, etc., of these individuals, I aim to reconstruct their life and death histories as well as to see how they compare with the male portion of the population. Overall, this research will offer a different viewpoint on society in the early Nile Valley and contribute to a better understanding of this crucial period.’

Explore many different things

During her time in Leiden, she will be trained in advanced osteoarchaeological methods. ‘Then I will apply the things that I learn to the analysis of human remains held at different museums and institutions worldwide, including in the UK, Denmark, and the USA.’ In the long term, Tamorri will aim for an ERC or an NWO grant. ‘The Marie Skłodowska-Curie post-doctoral fellowship is a great springboard for early career researchers and an amazing opportunity to get a lot of training in scientific methodologies under your belt. It also gives you a chance to refine many different transferable skills that are key to your professional development, whether or not you decide to pursue an academic career after the fellowship.’

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