Elizabeth Sawchuk

Department of Archaeology

Main Focus

Bioarchaeology, Osteology, Dental Anthropology, Mortuary Archaeology, Eastern Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Spread of Food Production

Curriculum Vitae

Elizabeth Sawchuk is a bioarchaeologist who has worked with archaeological human remains from across eastern and southern Africa. She received her B.A. (Honours) and M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Alberta, followed by her Ph.D. in 2017 from the University of Toronto. Her dissertation research focused on monumental “pillar site” cemeteries built around Lake Turkana ~5000 years ago and the transition to food production in eastern Africa. For her postdoctoral work at Stony Brook University in New York, she is expanding this research to evaluate human social and biological dynamics across Lake Turkana as herding spread along this frontier. Her research reconstructs patterns of migration and interaction involved in the introduction of herding and farming throughout sub-Saharan Africa using osteological, dental morphological, archaeological, and biomolecular methods. She collaborates on diverse projects with MPI-SHH as a specialist in bioarchaeological excavation and skeletal analysis.


Hildebrand EA, Grillo KM, Sawchuk EAPfeiffer S, Conyers L, Goldstein ST, Hill AC, Janzen A, Klehm C, Helper M, Kiura P, Ndiema E, Ngugi C, Shea J, Wang H. 2018. A monumental cemetery built by eastern Africa’s first herders near Lake Turkana, KenyaProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115(36): 8942-8947 

Sawchuk EA, Goldstein ST, Grillo KM, Hildebrand EA. 2018.Cemeteries and the spread of pastoralism from the Sahara through eastern AfricaJournal of Anthropological Archaeology 51: 187-205. 

Miller JM†, Sawchuk EA†, Reedman A, Willoughby PR. 2018. Snail Shell Beads in sub-Saharan African Archaeological Record: When, Where and Why? African Archaeological Review († = authors contributed equally) 

Prendergast ME†, Sawchuk EA†. 2018. Boots on the ground in Africa’s ancient DNA “revolution”: archaeologist perspectives on ethics and the need for best practicesAntiquity 92(363): 803-815. († = authors contributed equally)  

Goldstein ST, Hildebrand EA, Storozum MJ, Sawchuk EA, Lewis JE, Ngugi C, Robbins LH. 2017. New archaeological investigations at the Lothagam Harpoon Site at Lake Turkana. Antiquity 91 360, e5: 1-5. 

Biittner KM, Sawchuk EA, Miller JM, Werner JJ, Bushozi P, Willoughby PR. 2017. A Terminal Pleistocene Later Stone Age to Recent Iron Age Record at Mlambalasi Rock Shelter, Southern TanzaniaAfrican Archaeological Review 34(2): 275-295. 

Sawchuk EA, Willoughby PR. 2015. Terminal Pleistocene Later Stone Age human remains from the Mlambalasi Rock Shelter, Iringa Region, Southern Tanzania. 2015. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 25(5): 593-607. 

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