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Jess Thompson

I completed my BA in Archaeology and MA in Osteoarchaeology at the University of Southampton. I am now studying for my PhD at the University of Cambridge, supervised by Dr. John Robb and Dr. Simon Stoddart, and funded by the AHRC. I work on the FRAGSUS project alongside Dr. Ronika Power and Eóin Parkinson on the human remains from the Brochtorff Xaghra Circle.

My research focusses on the analysis of the taphonomic processes which have altered the human bones in order to reconstruct mortuary practices. I am interested in integrating osteoarchaeological methods with aspects of archaeological theory in order to think through these practices in the past and better understand depositional processes, particularly in the context of commingled and fragmented deposits. The Brochtorff Xaghra Circle provides a unique insight into funerary rituals and practices in Neolithic Malta, and is an ideal location to apply a combination of taphonomic and theoretical methods.
The elaboration and intensification of ritual during the Temple Period is well documented through monumental architecture and figurative art. My research is concerned with whether, and how, this intensification translated into rituals surrounding death. Through a close analysis of modes of fragmentation and dispersal, comparing results from Zebbug and Tarxien deposits, my research will hopefully produce a clearer picture of the burial process at the Circle. The patterns of fragmentation observed on human remains will be compared to the fragmentation of animal bones and pottery, forming an investigation into identity and ontologies of the body. There is currently little certainty about burial formation processes and estimations of the number of individuals buried varies widely. The results will hopefully prove an exciting addition to the project.