1) Affiliated Lecturer in Biological Anthropology
2) Hospital Consultant (specialist) in NHS
Research interest: parasite infection of humans throughout our evolution.
Piers Mitchell is accepting applications for PhD students.
Department of Archaeology and Anthropology
The Henry Wellcome Building
Cambridge CB2 1QH
Piers is qualified in medicine, in biological anthropology and medical history.
- He has taught as a lecturer at Imperial College London and the University of Sydney before moving to Cambridge in 2009.
- He runs a course on Human Evolution and Health in the Division of Biological Anthropology.
- Piers is on the editorial board of the International Journal of Paleopathology, the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, PostMedieval: a Journal of Medieval Cultural Studies.
- He is founding editor of the Cambridge University Press book series Cambridge Texts in Human Bioarchaeology and Osteoarchaeology.
- President of the Paleopathology Association 2015-17, the worldwide organisation for the study of ancient diseases. https://paleopathology-association.wildapricot.org
Departments and Institutes
- Biological Anthropology:
- Affiliated Lecturer
1) Ancient Parasites and Dysentery
- Piers' research interest is to identify when and how parasites and dysentery came to cause disease in humans, how we spread these parasites around the planet, and what impact these diseases had upon human evolution and civilizations in the past.
- To this end he undertakes laboratory research in the Division of Biological Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. Techniques employed are predominantly light microscopy and and ELISA. Samples analysed are from archaeological excavations around the world, including latrines, cesspools, coprolites and the sediment from the pelvic area of human skeletal remains from past populations.
- Piers also studies infectious disease from the lesions in human skeletal remains - e.g. treponemal disease (syphilis), tuberculosis, leprosy.
3) Bubonic Plague.
- Piers is co-investigator on the Wellcome Trust funded project 'After the Plague: Health in Medieval Cambridge'. This 4 year project aims to determine the biological consequences of the medieval Black Death (1348-1352 AD) upon the population of Britain by comparative analysis of the skeletal remains of those who survived with those who died.
Books on Infectious Disease:
Mitchell, P.D. and Le Bailly, M. Parasites in Past Civilisations and their Impact Upon Health. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge - book contract - manuscript for submission 2017.
Mitchell, P.D. (ed.) Sanitation, Latrines and Intestinal Parasites in Past Populations. Routledge: Abingdon, 2015.
Selected Articles on Infectious Disease:
Yeh, H.-Y., Mitchell, P.D. (2016) Ancient human parasites in ethnic Chinese populations. Korean Journal of Parasitology 54(5): 565-72.
Yeh, H.-Y., Mao, R., Wang, H., Qi, W., Mitchell, P.D. (2016) Early evidence for travel with infectious diseases along the Silk Road: intestinal parasites from 2,000 year old personal hygiene sticks in a latrine at Xuanquanzhi relay station in China. Journal Archaeological Science: Reports 9: 758-64.
Mitchell, P.D. (2016) Human parasites in the Roman world: health consequences of conquering an empire. Parasitology doi: 10.1017/S0031182015001651
Mitchell, P.D. (2015) Human parasites in medieval Europe: lifestyle, sanitation and medical treatment. Advances in Parasitology 90: 389-420.
Yeh, H.-Y., Prag, K., Clamer, C., Humbert, J.B., Mitchell, P.D. (2015) Human intestinal parasites from a Mamluk Period cesspool in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem: potential indicators for long distance travel in the 15th century AD. International Journal of Paleopathology 9: 69-75.
Anastasiou, E., Lorentz, K.O., Stein, G.J., Mitchell, P.D. (2014) Prehistoric schistosomiasis parasite found in the Middle East. Lancet Infectious Diseases 14: 553-4.
Yeh, H.-Y., Pluskowski, A., Kalējs, U., Mitchell, P.D. (2014) Intestinal parasites in a mid-14th century latrine from Riga, Latvia: fish tapeworm and the consumption of uncooked fish in the medieval eastern Baltic region. Journal of Archaeological Science 49: 83-89.
Anastasiou, E., Mitchell, P.D. (2013) Paleopathology and genes: investigating the genetics of infectious diseases in excavated human skeletal remains and mummies from past populations. Gene 528(1): 33-40.
Anastasiou, E., Mitchell, P.D. (2013) Human intestinal parasites from a latrine in the 12th century Frankish castle of Saranda Kolones in Cyprus. International Journal of Paleopathology 3: 218-23.
Anastasiou, E. Mitchell, P.D. (2013) Simplifying the process for extracting parasitic worm eggs from cesspool and latrine sediments: a trial comparing the efficacy of widely used techniques for disaggregation. International Journal of Paleopathology 3: 204-7.
Mitchell, P.D., Yeh, H.-Y., Appleby, J., Buckley, R. (2013) The intestinal parasites of King Richard III. The Lancet 382: 888.
Mitchell, P.D. (2013) The origins of human parasites: exploring the evidence for endoparasitism throughout human evolution. International Journal of Paleopathology 3: 191-98.
Mitchell, P.D. (2013) Editorial: the importance of research into ancient parasites. International Journal of Paleopathology 3: 189-190.
Mitchell, P.D., Anastasiou, E., Syon, D. (2011) Human intestinal parasites in crusader Acre: evidence for migration with disease in the Medieval Period. International Journal of Paleopathology 1: 132-37.
Mitchell, P.D. (2011) Retrospective diagnosis, and the use of historical texts for investigating disease in the past. International Journal of Paleopathology 1: 81-88.
Mitchell, P.D. The spread of disease with the crusades. In: Between Text and Patient: The Medical Enterprise in Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Ed. B. Nance and E.F. Glaze. Florence: Sismel 2011, p.309-330.
Mitchell, P.D., Stern, E., Tepper, Y. (2008) Dysentery in the crusader kingdom of Jerusalem: an ELISA analysis of two medieval latrines in the city of Acre (Israel). Journal of Archaeological Science 35(7): 1849-53. This study was reported in the news section of Science magazine, 30 May 2008, 320: 1139.
Mitchell, P.D., Huntley, J., Sterns, E. Bioarchaeological analysis of the 13th century latrines of the crusader hospital of St. John at Acre, Israel. In: Mallia-Milanes, V. (ed) The Military Orders: volume 3. Their History and Heritage. Aldershot: Ashgate 2008 p.213-23.
Mitchell, P.D., Tepper, Y. (2007) Intestinal parasitic worm eggs from a crusader period cesspool in the city of Acre (Israel). Levant 39: 91-5.
Mitchell, P.D. (2006) Child health in the crusader period inhabitants of Tel Jezreel, Israel. Levant 38: 37-44.
Mitchell, P.D. (2003) Pre-Columbian treponemal disease from 14th century AD Safed, Israel and the implications for the medieval eastern Mediterranean. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 121(2): 117-24.
Mitchell, P.D. The myth of the spread of leprosy with the crusades. In: The Past and Present of Leprosy. C. Roberts, K. Manchester, M. Lewis (eds). Oxford: Archaeopress. 2002 pp.175-81.
Mitchell, P.D. An evaluation of the leprosy of King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem in the context of the mediaeval world. Appendix in: B. Hamilton, The Leper King and his Heirs: Baldwin IV and the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2000 pp.245-58.