Hayley Mickleburgh

Hayley Mickleburgh

Department of Cultural Sciences Faculty of Arts and Humanities
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I am an archaeologist and 3D modelling and animation specialist, with training and research/teaching experience in forensic archaeology, mortuary archaeology and digital archaeology. My research interests and expertise futhermore cover the archaeology of death and burial, forensic taphonomy, sensory archaeology, ethics regarding human remains in archaeology and museum contexts, and Caribbean archaeology. I also hold multiple postgraduate certifications in digital Forensic Facial Reconstruction.

I am President of the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Fysische
Antropologie (Dutch Society for Physical Anthropology), and council member of the British Association for Human Identification.


I have taught a variety of practical and theoretical subjects: from field schools, internships and tutorials to courses on archaeology and forensic sciences. At LNU, I currently teach Digital Archaeology at Master level. This course includes a broad practical and theoretical overview of the field, and in-depth modules on 3D modelling, visualization and virtual reconstruction, spatial analysis using GIS, and text mining and machine learning.


Since 2015, I have conducted a program of actualistic taphonomic experiments at the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State University. This program explores the potential of research on human decomposition to improve methods, models and interpretations in the field of mortuary archaeology and forensic archaeology.

Mass grave research

My most recent taphonomic research is focused on mass graves: graves that contains the remains of multiple individuals. The aim of the Mass Grave Project is to collect valuable data for the (remote) detection, documentation, and excavation of (forensic) mass graves. The project includes land-based geophysical research, remote detection using multi- and hyperspectral imagery, 3D recording of complex commingled grave contexts, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) analysis for the detection of buried human remains, new biomolecular techniques for postmortem interval estimation and biological age estimation, and isotopic analysis of human tissues and soil samples.

3D Visualization

A large part of my research has focused on developing 3D visualization methods for the analysis of human (forensic) archaeological burials. I developed a procedure to enhance archaeothanatological analysis and improve post-excavation analysis of human burials. The purpose of the procedure is to produce 3D simulations to visualize and test taphonomic hypotheses, thereby augmenting traditional archaeothanatological analysis. The procedure can be applied post-excavation to older 2D field documentation, even when the amount and detail of documentation is less than ideal. 

As a part of the Mass Grave Project, I have developed a pipeline of 3D documentation of in situ human remains which will be used to create 3D virtual training tools to aid humanitarian forensic archaeological investigation, in collaboration with the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), The Hague. These virtual tools will also benefit university students by allowing VR excavation training of complex archaeological deposits.

Research ethics and human remains

As a part of the Ethical Entanglements research project led by Liv Nilsson Stutz, I examine the attitudes, rationales and value systems associated with ethical concepts and frameworks within certain medicolegal fields, and explore how these can be transferred and used to support the care for and research on archaeological human remains in museums.


As a member of the Archaeothanatology Working Group, I collaborate with other members to further develop the method of archaeothanatology and to broaden familiarity with and geographical application of the framework.


Article in journal (Refereed)

Chapter in book (Other academic)