Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History

Dr. Monica Tromp

Kahlaische Strasse 10

07745 Jena



Dr. Monica Tromp

Dr. Monica Tromp
Dr. Monica Tromp
Department of Archaeology

Room: 010

Main Focus

Monica Tromp is a microbioarchaeologist who specializes in plant micro particle analysis. Most of her work has focused on the extraction and identification of starch granules and phytoliths from dental calculus and sediments in the Pacific. 

Currently, her main interests include:

  • The role of plants throughout human migration into and the settlement of the Pacific region
  • Arboriculture in Southeast Asia, Island Southeast Asia and the Pacific region
  • Method development for extraction of multiple data sets from dental calculus
  • Using ancient dental calculus to examine the health and migration of humans
  • Exploring environmental and dietary markers found in dental calculus

Curriculum Vitae

Monica Tromp received a BA and MSc in Anthropology from Idaho State University, USA. In 2016, she completed a PhD in the Department of Anatomy at the University of Otago, New Zealand, where she extracted microparticles from the dental calculus of some of the first people to colonize the remote Pacific 3,000 years ago (known as Lapita). For her postdoctoral work, Monica is expanding this research to include new regions and techniques. Her research area will expand to include Southeast Asia and Indonesia. In addition to microparticle analysis, she will include proteomic and genomic analyses to fully explore the contents of dental calculus. Monica has also been involved with aDNA research in Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and trace element analyses of bones, teeth, glass, ceramics, and stone and metal tools from several regions around the world including the Pacific, the North Western USA, Alaska and the South Caucusus region. 

Current Projects

Vietnam to Vanuatu: Dental calculus and the Austronesian Expansion


Rainforest reliance in the archaeological record


Journal Articles


Commendador, A.S., B.P. Finney, B.T. Fuller, M. Tromp and J.V. Dudgeon. 2019. Multiproxy isotopic analyses of human skeletal material from Rapa Nui: evaluating the evidence from carbonates, bulk collagen and amino acids. American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Radini, A. †, M. Tromp†, A. Beach, E. Tong, C. Speller, M. McCormick, J. V. Dudgeon, M. J. Collins, F. Rühli, R. Kröger, C. Warinner. 2019. Medieval women's early involvement in manuscript production suggested by lapis lazuli identification in dental calculus. Scientific Advances 5: eaau7126. († co-first authors)

Oxenham, M.F., H.H. Trinh, A. Willis, R.K. Jones, H. Buckley, K. Domett, C. Castillo, R. Wood, P.Bellwood, M. Tromp, A. Kells, S.T. Pham and H. Matsumura. 2018. Farming or Foraging: Strategic Responses to the Holocene Thermal Maximum in Southeast Asia. Antiquity 92: 940-957.

Taylor, W.T.T., J. Bayarsaikhan, D. Staszewski, S. Bender, J. Whitworth, T.

Tuvshinjargal, M. Tromp, K.B. Lowry, J.-L. Houle, J. Clark, N. Boivin. 2018. “Origins of Equine Dentistry.” PNAS 115(29): E6707-15.

Clark, A., C.L. King, H.R. Buckley, C.J. Collins, N. Dhavale, G.E. Elliott, A. Gosling, S.E. Halcrow, B. Ivory, E. Matisoo-Smith, S.K. McDonald, C. Stantis, M. Tromp, S. Ward, K. West. 2017 "Biological anthropology in the Indo-Pacific region: New approaches to age-old questions." Journal of Indo-Pacific Archaeology 41: 78-94.

Tromp, Monica, Hallie Buckley, Jonny Geber and Elizabeth Matisoo-Smith. 2017. "EDTA decalcification of dental calculus as an alternate means of microparticle extraction from archaeological samples." Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 14: 461-466.

Maxwell, Justin J., Mark McCoy, Monica Tromp, Andrew Hoffmann and Ian G. Barber. 2017. "The difficult place of deserted coasts in archaeology: New archaeological research on Cooks Beach (Pukaki), Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand." The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology. In press. 

Maxwell, Justin J., and Monica Tromp. 2016. "Corynocarpus laevigatus: where art thou? Finding evidence of this elusive tree crop."  Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 234:198-210.

Ball, Terry B., AnnaLisa Davis, Rand R. Evett, Jammi L. Ladwig, Monica Tromp, Welmoed A. Out, and Marta Portillo. 2016. "Morphometric analysis of phytoliths: recommendations towards standardization from the International Committee for Phytolith Morphometrics."  Journal of Archaeological Science 68:106-111.

Tromp, Monica, and John V. Dudgeon. 2015. "Differentiating dietary and non-dietary microfossils extracted from human dental calculus: the importance of sweet potato to ancient diet on Rapa Nui."  Journal of Archaeological Science 54:54-63.

Dudgeon, John V., and Monica Tromp. 2014. "Diet, Geography and Drinking Water in Polynesia: Microfossil Research from Archaeological Human Dental Calculus, Rapa Nui (Easter Island)."  International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 24 (5):634-648. doi: 10.1002/oa.2249.

Gevorkyan, Aram, David Peterson, John Dudgeon, Monica Tromp, and Arsen Bobokhyan. 2014. "LA-ICP-MS analysis of prehistoric copper and bronze metalwork from Armenia."  Hushardzan 9:28-40.


Book Chapters


Kinaston, Rebecca, Anna Willis, Justina Miszkiewicz, Monica Tromp and Marc F. Oxenham. “The dentition:development, disturbances, disease, diet and chemistry.” In Identification of Pathological Conditions in Human Skeletal Remains, 3rd edition, edited by J.E. Buikstra, 749-797. London: Academic Press, Elsevier.

Tromp, Monica, John V. Dudgeon, Hallie R. Buckley, and Elizabeth A. Matisoo-Smith. 2016. "Dental calculus and plant diet in Oceania." In The Routledge Handbook of Bioarchaeology in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, edited by M. Oxenham and H. Buckley, 599-622. London and New York: Routledge.

Dudgeon, John V., Monica Tromp, Bryan K. Hanks, and Andrei V. Epimakhov. 2016. "Investigating Biogenic Versus Diagenetic Trace Element Incorporation in Archaeological Mineralized Tissues with LA-ICP-MS." In Recent Advances in Laser Ablation ICP-MS for Archaeology, edited by Laure Dussubieux, Mark Golitko and Bernard Gratuze, 323-341. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.

Peterson, David L., John V. Dudgeon, Monica Tromp, and Arsen Bobokhyan. 2016. "LA-ICP-MS Analysis of Prehistoric Copper and Bronze Metalwork from Armenia." In Recent Advances in Laser Ablation ICP-MS for Archaeology,, edited by Laure Dussubieux, Mark Golitko and Bernard Gratuze, 115-133. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.

Dudgeon, John V., Amy S. Commendador, and Monica Tromp. 2016. "Archaeogenetics and paleodemographic estimation of founding populations: Features of residential geography on Rapanui." In Skeletal Biology of the Ancient Rapanui (Easter Islanders), edited by Vincent H Stefan and G. W. Gill, 202-221. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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