Della Collins Cook
Professor, Anthropology Department
Adjunct Professor, Anthropology School of Liberal Arts, IUPUI
Affiliate Faculty, William R. Adams Zooarchaeology Lab
Director, Osteology and Paleopathology Lab
- Ph.D., University of Chicago (1976)
- M.A., University of Chicago (1971)
- A.B., Cornell University (1969)
Geographical Areas of Specialization: Americas, Aegean
Topical Interests: Human osteology, Paleopathology, Mortuary practices, Demography
My work in skeletal biology applies insights drawn from health studies of modern humans to the study of ancient peoples. I am particularly interested in the infectious diseases that affect the skeleton and in developmental defects in the teeth. I began working in 1970 on the relationship between subsistence and health by comparing limb bone lengths, and by inference, stature, in children from two prehistoric Midwestern cemetery sites that pre-dated and post-dated the beginning of heavy dependence on maize. Was the hunting and gathering way of life the original good life, as it is often portrayed? My research suggests that a marked deterioration in health attends the adoption of agriculture, but that at least some agricultural groups suffered few health consequences after the use of maize was established. Paleopathology of Woodland and Mississippian Indians in the Midwest continues to be the focus of my research. My most recent work with several colleagues applies ancient DNA technology to understanding the epidemiology of tuberculosis among Mississippian maize farmers.
Early in my career I characterized the diseases that leave evidence on bone according to their epidemiological characteristics, and applied the models that resulted to the evidence for disease in prehistoric populations. A number of interesting observations followed. My work suggested that non-venereal syphilis was endemic in the ancient Midwest. More recently I have explored evidence for congenital transmission of treponemal disease in later prehistory in the Americas as well as in slave populations from Barbados. Mary Lucas Powell and I have published an edited volume. My work on the vertebrae of Australopithecus afarensis showed that vertebral lesions most resemble Scheuermann's disease, a condition that follows strenuous athletic activity in adolescents. Its presence in australopithecines suggests that strenuous climbing or lifting was part of their behavioral repertoire. Research in collaboration with J.E. Buikstra in the 1980s suggested that tuberculosis, or a tuberculosis-like disease, appeared on the New World only after there were population aggregates of tens of thousands of people. Mark Braun, Susan Pfeiffer and I were able to confirm this diagnosis using ancient DNA in 1998. Prof. Rika Kaestle and I continue to pursue this fascinating topic.
I participated in Prof. Anne Pyburn's excavation at Chau Hiix, Belize from 1993 to 2006. We have a field school there every other spring semester, allowing my students to gain experience in excavating burials. We have begun to publish the archaeology and physical anthropology of this unusual ancient Maya population. I am interested in mortuary practices, and have written on funerary masks and house floor burials, artifacts made from human bones, and osteobiography of unusual persons in the ancient Midwest. I am presently collaborating with colleagues at Museu Nacional and FIOCRUZ on a study of a slave cemetery in Rio de Janeiro.
1974 Environmental carbon monoxide and multiple sclerosis. Amer. J. Clin. Nutrition 27:105.
1978 Pre‑Columbian tuberculosis: an epidemiological approach. Medical College of Virginia Quarterly 14:32‑ 44. With Jane Buikstra.
1978 CA comment. Current Anthropology 19:73.
1978 CA comment. Current Anthropology 19:685‑6.
1979 Subsistence base and health in prehistoric Illinois River Valley: evidence from the human skeleton. Medical Anthropology 3:109‑124.
1979 Health and differential survival in prehistoric populations: prenatal dental defects. AJPA 51:649‑ 664. With J.E. Buikstra.
1980 Paget's disease and treponematosis in prehistoric Midwestern Indians: the case for misdiagnosis. Ossa 7:41‑63.
1980 Hereditary enamel hypoplasia in a prehistoric Indian child. J. of Dental Research 59/9:1522.
1980 Palaeopathology: an American account. Annual Reviews in Anthropology 9:433‑70. With J.E. Buikstra.
1980 Schild pathologies. In L.G. Goldstein, Mississippian mortuary practices: a case study of two cemeteries in the Lower Illinois Valley. Northwestern University Archeological Program Scientific Papers No. 3.
1981 Mortality, age structure, and status in the interpretation of stress indicators in prehistoric skeletons: a dental example from the Lower Illinois Valley. In R. Chapman and K. Randsborg, eds., The Archaeology of Death. Cambridge University Press.
1981 Clay funerary masks in Illinois Hopewell. With K. Farnsworth. Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology 6:3‑ 15.
1981 Pre‑Columbian tuberculosis: prehistoric disease in biocultural perspective. With J.E. Buikstra. In Pre‑ Columbian Tuberculosis in the Americas. J.E. Buikstra, ed., Northwestern Archaeological Program Scientific Papers.
1981 Koniag Eskimo tooth ablation: was Hrdlicka right after all? Current Anthropology 22:159‑163.
1983 Vertebral osteoarthritis and osteophytosis in the Afar australopithecines. With J.E. Buikstra, C.J. DeRousseau, and D.C. Johanson. AJPA 60:83‑101.
1983 Ethnobiology. In: Encyclopedia of Indians of the Americas. Scholarly Press, St. Clair, Michigan. Vol. 5: 256-8.
1984 Subsistence and health in the Lower Illinois Valley: osteological evidence. In Paleopathology at the Origins of Agriculture. M.N. Cohen and G.J. Armelagos, eds., Academic Press, San Francisco.
1984 Adult age determination from the dentition. In T. Rathbun and J. Buikstra, eds., Case Studies in Forensic Anthropology. C.C. Thomas, Springfield.
1987 Diet, demography and the development of horticulture. In: Emergent horticultural economies of the Eastern Woodlands. Edited by W.F. Keegan. Occasional Paper #7, Center for Archaeological Investigation, SIU Press, Carbondale. With J. Buikstra, J. Bullington, D.C. Charles, S.K. Frankenberg, L.W. Konigsberg, J.B. Lambert and L. Xue.
1988 Forensic Anthropology. Medical Education Resources Program, I.U. School of Medicine, MERP Network videotape aired 28 April 1988.
1990 Epidemiology of circular caries: a perspective from prehistoric skeletons. In: A Life in Science: Papers in Honor of J. Lawrence Angel. J.E. Buikstra, ed. Center for American Archaeology and Bioanthropology Unit, American Anthropological Association, Kampsville.
1991 Trauma in Late Woodland crania from Illinois. With J. Heilman and M. Martin Neely. Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Sciences 100:1-8.
1991 Specimens for teaching forensic pathology, odontology, and anthropology Part I: soft tissue. With D.A. Hawley, D.C. Marlin, D. Becsey, M.A. Clark, J.E. Pless and S. M. Standish. American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology 12:164-169.
1991 Specimens for teaching forensic pathology, odontology, and anthropology. Part II: Teeth and bone. With D.A. Hawley, D.C. Marlin, D. Becsey, M.A. Clark, J.E. Pless and S. M. Standish. American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology 12:170-174.
1991 An osteological analysis of social organization at the Carter Ranch Pueblo, Arizona. With M.E. Danforth. Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Science 100:101-111.
1992 Congenital syphilis in the past: slaves at Newton Plantation, Barbados, West Indies. With K.P. Jacobi, R.S. Corruccini and J.S. Handler. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 89:145-158.
1992 Paleopatologia. With J.E. Buikstra. In: Paleopatologia e Paleoepidemiologia: Estudos Multidisciplinares. A.J. G. Araujo, Ed. Fundacao Oswaldo Cruz: Rio de Janeiro.
1993 African burial ground addenda. (letter). Archaeology 46(4):10.
1993 What diseases plagued ancient Egyptians? A century of controversy considered. With J.E. Buikstra and B. Baker. In: W.V. Davies and R. Walker, eds. Biological anthropology and the study of ancient Egypt. British Museum Press: London.
1994 The human remains from Carter Ranch Pueblo, Arizona: health in isolation. With M.E. Danforth and S.G. Knick. American Antiquity 59(1):88-101.
1994 Dental evidence for congenital syphilis (and its absence) before and after the Conquest of the New World. In: O. Dutour, G. Palfi, J. Berato and J-P. Brun, eds., L'Origine de la Syphilis en Europe: avant ou apres 1492? Errance: Paris.
1995 Human remains: some recommendations for recovery and processing. In: The Practical Impact of Science on Field Archaeology: Maintaining Long-term Analytical Options. The Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute:Nicosia.
1997 Skeletal evidence for child abuse: a physical anthropological perspective. With P.A. Walker and P. Lambert. Journal of Forensic Sciences 42:196-207.
1997 Late Postclassic tooth filing at Chau Hiix and Tipu, Belize. With L. M. Havill, D.M. Warren, K.D. Jacobi, and K.A. Pyburn. In: Bones of the Maya: Studies of Ancient Skeletons, S. L. Whittington and D. M. Reed, eds. Smithsonian Inst. Press. Pp. 89-104.
1997 Book Review. [Mortuary Practices and Skeletal Remains at Teotihuacan.] International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 7:563-5.
1998 DNA from Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex identified in North American, Pre-Columbian human skeletal remains. With M. Braun and S. Pfeiffer. Journal of Archaeological Sciences 25:271-277.
1998 Brief communication: gender and sex: vive la difference. With P.L. Walker. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 106:255-259.
1999 Sex differences in trace elements: status or self-selection? In: Gender in Paleopathological Perspective. A. Grauer and P. Stuart-Macadam, eds. Cambridge University Press. With K.D. Hunt.
1999 Skeletal evidence for nutrition in the Mesolithic and Neolithic: a view from Franchthi Cave. In: Palaeodiet in the Aegean. SJ Vaughan and WDE Coulson, eds. David Browne (Oxbow Books).
1999 Physical anthropology in the field: recognizing cremation, defleshing, exposure and secondary burial. In: The Practical Impact of Science on Field Archaeology. S. Pike and S. Gitin, eds. Wiener Laboratory Publication No. 3. Pp. 43-6. Archetype Press: London.
2000 Trepanation or trephination? The orthography of paleopathology. Paleopathology Newsletter No. 109: 9-12.
2001 Residential mortuary practices and skeletal biology at the Late Mississippian Hovey Lake site, Posey County, Indiana. Midcontinental Journal of Archeology 26:1-52. With C.A. Munson.
2001 Neglected ancestors: Etienne and Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire. Paleopathology Newsletter No. 116:17-21.
2002 Rhinomaxillary syndrome in the absence of leprosy: an exercise in differential diagnosis. In: The Past and Present of Leprosy: Congress Proceedings, C.Roberts, O. Dutour, G. Palfi and M. Lewis, eds. British Archaeological Report (International Series) No. 1054. Archaeopress: Oxford.
2003 Neglected ancestors: Dr. Selby W. Plummer. Paleopathology Newsletter No. 123:11-16.
2005 The Myth of Syphilis: A Natural History of North American Treponematosis. Mary Lucas Powell and Della Collins Cook, eds. Gainesville, University Press of Florida.
2005 Transitory mummies: Hopewell tombs and the conservation of the dead. Journal of Biological Research VXXX:191-193.
2006 Bioathropology bibliography: studies of human remains and mortuary practices that use Perino mound-excavation data. In: Illinois Hopewell and Late Woodland Mounds: The Excavations of Gregory Perino. Kenneth Farnsworth, ed., ITARP Studies in Archaeology No. 4. Pp. 125-136. University of Illinois Press.
2006 Joe Gay Mound Group, Crematory A excavations. In: Illinois Hopewell and Late Woodland Mounds: The Excavations of Gregory Perino. Kenneth Farnsworth, ed., ITARP Studies in Archaeology No. 4. Pp. 498-500. University of Illinois Press: Urbana. With A. Palkovich.
2006 Introduction. Memorias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz Vol. 101 (Suppl. II):5-7. With M. L. Powell.
2006 Tuberculosis in the New World: a study of ribs from the Schild Mississippian population, West-Central Illinois. Memorias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz Vol. 101 (Suppl. II):25-27. With J. Raff and F. Kaestle
2006 The Old Physical Anthropology and the New World: a look at the accomplishments of an antiquated paradigm. In: Bioarchaeology: The Contextual Study of Human Remains. Jane E. Buikstra and Lane A Beck, eds. Elsevier: Amsterdam. Pp. 27-72.
2006 The evolution of American paleopathology. In: Bioarchaeology: The Contextual Study of Human Remains. Jane E. Buikstra and Lane A Beck, eds. Elsevier: Amsterdam. Pp. 281-322. With Mary Lucas Powell.
2006 Invisible Hands: Women in Bioarchaeology. In: Bioarchaeology: The Contextual Study of Human Remains. Jane E. Buikstra and Lane A Beck, eds. Elsevier: Amsterdam. Pp. 131-193. With M. L. Powell, J. E. Buikstra, G.Bogdan, M. M. Castro, P. D. Horne, D. R. Hunt, R. T. Koritzer, S. Ferraz Mendonça de Souza, M. K. Sandford, L. Saunders, G. Aparecida Malerba Sene, L. Sullivan, and J. J. Swetnam.
2007 Maize and Mississippians in the Midwest: Twenty Years Later. In: Ancient Health: Skeletal Indicators of Agriculture and Economic Intensification. Mark Nathan Cohen and Gillian Crane-Kramer, eds. University Press of Florida. Pp. 10-19.
2007 Incidence of trachoma in two prehistoric Lower Illinois River Valley populations. Paleopathology Newsletter (138):9-12. With Julie Euber and Susan Dale Spencer.
2008 Thermally Induced Changes in the Stable Carbon- and Nitrogen-isotope Ratios of Charred Bones. In: The Analysis of Burned Human Remains. Christopher W. Schmidt and Steven A. Symes, eds. Academic: Amsterdam. Pp.95-108. With Mark R. Schurr and Robert G. Hayes.
2008 Book review: McCafferty: Native American Place-Names in Indiana. Journal of Folklore Research. http://www.indiana.edu/~jofr/review.php?id=695
2008 In Memoriam: Patrick David Horne. Paleopathology Newsletter No. 143:9-11. With Mary Lucas Powell.
2009 Isotopic evidence for diet at Chau Hiix, Belize: testing regional models of hierarchy and heterarchy. Latin American Antiquity 20(1): 15-36. With Jessica Z. Metcalfe, Christine D. White, Fred J. Longstaffe, Gabriel Wrobel and K. Anne Pyburn .
2010 Da África ao Cemitério dos Pretos Novos, Rio de Janeiro: un estudo sobre as origens de escravos a partir da anályse de isotopes de estrôncio no esmalte dentário. Revista de Arqueologia 24(1):68-97. With Murilo Q.R. Bastos, Sheila M. F. Mendonça de Souza, Ricardo Ventura Santos, Claudia Rodrigues-Carvalho and Roberto Ventura Santos.
2011 Dentes intencionalmente modificados e etnicidade em cemitérios do Brasil Colônia e Imperio. Revista do Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia, São Paulo,21:315-334. With Andersen Liryo and Sheila Mendonça de Souza.
2011 Brief communication: conjoined twins at Angel Mounds? An ancient DNA perspective. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 146(1):138-42. With Charla Marshall, Patricia A. Tench and Frederika A. Kaestle.
2011 As the worm turns: an enigmatic calcified object as pseudopathology. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology DOI:10.1002/oa.1302. With Randy R. Patrick.
2011 The ‘African Queen’, a Portuguese Mystery. In: The Bioarchaeology of Individuals. Ann Lucy Stodder & Ann M. Palkovich, Editors, University Press of Florida. With Mary Lucas Powell, Maia M. Langley, Jennifer Raff, Susan D. Spencer and Frederika Kaestle.
2012 Book Review: Arch Lake Woman: Physical Anthropology and Geoarchaeology. Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology 31(1):153-155.
2012 Future of Paleopathology. With Mary Lucas Powell. In: A Companion to Paleopathology, Anne L. Grauer, ed. Blackwell.
2012 Treponematosis: Past, Present and Future. With Mary Lucas Powell. In: A Companion to Paleopathology, Anne L. Grauer, ed. Blackwell.
2012 Cemitério dos Pretos Novos: questões da escravidão revisitadas. Ciencia Hoje 49 (219--April):22-27. With Sheila Mendonça de Souza, Murilo Quintans Bastos, Ricardo Ventura Santos.
2012 Roy L. Moodie: Comparative Perspectives on Ancient Disease. Global History of Paleopathology. Oxford University Press. J. E. Buikstra and C. A. Roberts, eds.
2012 Paleopathology in the American Midcontinent. Global History of Paleopathology. Oxford University Press. J.E. Buikstra and C. A. Roberts, eds.
2012 Herbert Upham Williams: Physician Paleopathologist. Global History of Paleopathology. Oxford University Press. J. E. Buikstra and C. A. Roberts, eds.
2012 Neglected Ancestors: Robert Wilson Shufeldt, M. D., 1850-1934. Global History of Paleopathology. Oxford University Press. J. E. Buikstra and C. A. Roberts, eds.
2012 Tocas do Gongo, São Raimundo Nonato, Piauí, Brasil: uma Bioarqueologia Retrospectiva. Revista de Arqueologia 24(2):30-49. With Sheila Maria Ferraz Mendonça de Souza.
2013 Synchrotron Reveals Early Triassic Odd Couple: Injured Amphibian and Aestivating Therapsid Share Burrow. With Fernandez, V.; Abdala, F.; Carlson, K. J.; Rubidge, B. S.; Yates, A.; Tafforeau, P. PLoS ONE 8 (6): e64978.
2013 Oddest Couple Ever Found. With Fernandez, V.; Abdala, F.; Carlson, K. J.; Rubidge, B. S.; Yates, A.; Tafforeau, P. ESRF Highlights 2013: 13-14. http://www.esrf.eu/Apache_files/Highlights/HL2013.pdf
2014 Normal Goat or Diseased Human? Disciplinary Boundaries and Methodological Traps in the Analysis of Fragmentary Remains at Franchthi Cave, Greece. In: Commingled and Disarticulated Human Remains: Working Toward ImprovedTheory, Method and Data. Anna J. Osterholtz, Kathryn M. Baustian, Debra L. Martin and eds. NY: Springer. Pp. 255-263.
2014 Taking Analyses of Commingled Remains into the Future: Challenges and Prospects. With Kathryn M. Baustian and Anna J. Osterholtz . In: Commingled and Disarticulated Human Remains: Working Toward Improved Theory, Method and Data. Anna J. Osterholtz, Kathryn M. Baustian, Debra L. Martin and eds. NY: Springer. Pp. 265-274.
2014 Death and the Special Child: Three Examples from the Ancient Midwest. With Andrew R.Thompson and Amanda A. Rollins. In: Tracing Childhood: Bioarchaeological Investigations of Early Lives in Antiquity. J.L. Thompson, M.P. Alfonso-Durruty and J. J. Crandall, eds. Gainsville: University of Florida Press. Pp.17-35.
2014 The Temporal and Cultural Contexts of the Enigmatic Cremation Burials from the Yokem Site, Illinois, USA. With Mark Schurr. In: Transformation by Fire: the Archaeology of Cremation in Cultural Context. Ian Kuijt, Colin P. Quinn and Gabriel Cooney, eds. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. Pp.
2014 The Natural Shocks that Flesh is Heir to. In: Owsley, D.W. and R.L.Jantz, eds., Kennewick Man: the Scientific Investigation of an Ancient American Skeleton. College Station: Texas A&M University Press. Pp. 279-289.
2014 Summum. ABC-CLIO: Mummies around the World: An Encyclopedia of Mummies in History, Religion, and Popular Culture. Matt Cardin, ed. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, LLC. Pp. 393-395.
2014 Pre-Columbian mycobacterial genomes reveal seals as a source of New World human tuberculosis. Nature Aug 20. doi: 10.1038/nature13591. Bos KI, Harkins KM, Herbig A, Coscolla M, Weber N, Comas I, Forrest SA, Bryant JM, Harris SR, Schuenemann VJ, Campbell TJ, Majander K, Wilbur AK, Guichon RA, Wolfe Steadman DL, Cook DC, Niemann S, Behr MA, Zumarraga M, Bastida R, Huson D, Nieselt K, Young D, Parkhill J, Buikstra JE, Gagneux S, Stone AC, Krause J.
2015 Ancient DNA from the Schild site in Illinois: Implications for the Mississippian transition in the Lower Illinois River Valley. With Austin W. Reynolds, Jennifer A.Raff, Deborah A. Bolnick, and Fredericka A. Kaestle. Am J Phys Anthropol.156(3):434-48. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.22668.
2015 Pretos Novos: Evidence for African Oral Hygiene Practices in Brazil,1769–1830. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 25: 238–244: With Murilo Q. R. Bastos, Camile Lopes, Sheila Mendonça de Souza and Ricardo Ventura Santos. DOI: 10.1002/oa.2278 (published online 2012)
2015 Vessel, Ornament, Mask or Rattle? Reconstructing a Mississippian Worked Bone Object from the Angel Site. With Cheryl Ann Munson. In: Transforming the Dead: Culturally Modified Bone in the Prehistoric Midwest. Eve A. Hargrave, Shirley J. Schermer, Kristin M. Hedman and Robin M. Lillie, eds. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. Pp. 152-172.
2015 Modification of Human Bone from Mississippian Caborn-Welborn Phase Sites in Southwestern Indiana and West-Central Kentucky. With Cheryl Ann Munson and Mary Lucas Powell. In: Transforming the Dead: Culturally Modified Bone in the Prehistoric Midwest. Eve A. Hargrave, Shirley J. Schermer, Kristin M. Hedman and Robin M. Lillie, eds. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. Pp. 173-190.
2015 Life after Death: A Brief History of Human Bone Tools in Sub-Mound 51 at Cahokia. With Eve A. Hargrave. In: Transforming the Dead: Culturally Modified Bone in the Prehistoric Midwest. Eve A. Hargrave, Shirley J. Schermer, Kristin M. Hedman and Robin M. Lillie, eds. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. Pp.129-140.
2015 Paleopathology. In: Basics in Human Evolution. Michael P. Meuhlenbein, editor. Academic Press. Pp. 427-447.
2016 Isotopic study of geographic origins and diet of enslaved Africans buried in two Brazilian cemeteries. Journal of Archaeological Science 70:82-90. With Murilo Q. R. Bastos, Ricardo V. Santos, Sheila M. F. M. de Souza, Claudia Rodrigues-Carvalho, Robert H. Tykot, and Roberto V. Santos.