Camilla Filomena Speller

Camilla Filomena Speller


Former affiliations

Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile


I received my BA in Archaeology and Anthropology from the University of Calgary in 1999. My MA, completed at the Department of Archaeology at Simon Fraser University in 2005, used ancient DNA analysis to examine the distribution of salmon species at the Northwest Plateau site of Keatley Creek, BC, Canada. My PhD dissertation, also completed at Simon Fraser University in 2009, applied ancient DNA techniques to study the use of wild and domestic turkeys in the Southwest United States. In 2010, I was awarded a SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship to continue my research on North American turkey domestication at the University of Calgary, and helped to develop the new ancient DNA laboratory in the Department of Archaeology. In 2012, I joined BioArCh as a Marie Curie postdoctoral research fellow (EU-IIF) where I applied ZooMS and ancient DNA analysis to questions of historic whale exploitation. In 2014, I became a Lecturer in BioArCh, and the Director of the Ancient DNA laboratory at York.  

Research interests

My research interests focus on the application of biomolecular analyses (ancient DNA and proteins) to archaeological and anthropological questions, with a particular interest in animal domestication, environmental archaeology, and ancient human microbiomes.

Human Microbiomes: The human body hosts billions of bacteria, which play a major role in influencing our health, wellbeing and behaviour. New biomolecular methods have allowed us to gain insight into the evolution and ecology of these microbiomes through the analysis of ancient dental calculus (fossilized plaque) and coprolites. My research is applying metagenomic and metaproteomic analysis to investigate the ancient human microbiomes and their implications for health, disease and diet in past populations. 

Animal domestication: The animal domestication process represents a quintessential model for examining the shifting nature and intensity of human-animal relationships. My research is using ancient DNA, stable isotopes and and osteological techniques to examine the use of wild and domestic turkey stocks in the American Southwest and Mesoamerica. 

ORCA – Optimizing Research on Cetaceans in Archaeology: Whale hunting has been practiced by a variety of cultures worldwide for millennia, but today whales are one of the most threatened group of mammals, almost exclusively due to recent industrial hunting practices. Archaeological investigations into the history of whaling are vital for understanding the long-term exploitation of these important marine mammals, and also because they provide essential ecological baseline data on pre-industrial whale populations. My research applies DNA and collagen-based methods (ZooMS) to investigate the taxonomic abundance and distribution of whale species through time and space, and explore how accurate species identification affects current hypotheses on the prehistory of whale hunting and exploitation in different regions worldwide. 


Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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