Michael Richards

I joined the UBC Department of Anthropology in 2009 from the Max Planck Institution for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.  I completed my undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Archaeology at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., before going to the UK for my PhD (University of Oxford) and subsequent academic appointments at the Universities of Bradford and Durham

Currently Teaching

Research Interests

My research is in the field of archaeological science, which is the application of methods developed in biology, physics and chemistry to archaeology and anthropology. My particular expertise is in isotope analysis as a means of reconstructing past human and animal diets and migrations. My main research interest is in the range and variety of modern human diets, and how our diets have evolved and changed over time. My recent research has mainly focused on two key transitions: The expansion of modern humans into Eurasia and the adoption of agriculture in Europe and Asia.

I also hold a position as Professor (part-time) at the Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany. (http://www.eva.mpg.de/evolution/staff/richards/index.htm]



  • Hublin, J-J. and M.P. Richards (eds.) (2009). The Evolution of Hominid Diets: Integrating approaches to the study of Palaeolithic subsistence. Springer.

 Selected articles (past three years):

  • Mannino, M., Catalano, G., Talamo, S., Mannino, G., Di Salvo, R., Schimmenti, V.,  Lalueza-Fox, C., Messina, A., Petruso, D., Caramelli, D., Richards, M.P. and L. Sineo (in press) Origin and diet of the prehistoric hunter-gatherers on the Mediterranean island of Favignana (Ègadi Islands, Sicily). PloS One.
  • Hublin, J-.J., Talamo, S., Julien, M., David, F., Connet, N., Bodub, P., Vandermeersch, B., and M. P. Richards (2012). Radiocarbon dates from the Grotte du Renne and Saint-Césaire support a Neandertal origin for the Châtelperronian. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 109: 18743-18748.
  • Fuller, B. T., De Cupere, B., Marinova, E., Van Neer, W., Waelkens, M. and Richards, M. P. (2012) Isotopic reconstruction of human diet and animal husbandry practices during the Classical-Hellenistic, imperial, and Byzantine periods at Sagalassos, Turkey. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 149:157–171
  • Oelze, V. M., Koch, J. K., Kupke, K., Nehlich, O., Zäuner, S., Wahl, J., Weise, S. M., Rieckhoff, S. and Richards, M. P. (2012). Multi-isotopic analysis reveals individual mobility and diet at the early iron age monumental tumulus of Magdalenenberg, Germany. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 148: 406–421.
  • Nehlich, O., Fuller, B. T., Márquez-Grant, N. and Richards, M. P. (2012), Investigation of diachronic dietary patterns on the islands of Ibiza and Formentera, Spain: Evidence from sulfur stable isotope ratio analysis. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 149: 115–124
  • Britton, K., Gaudzinski-Windheuser, S., Roebroeks, W., Kindler, L. and M. P. Richards (2012) Stable isotope analysis of well-preserved 120,000-year-old herbivore bone collagen from the Middle Palaeolithic site of Neumark-Nord 2, Germany reveals niche
  • separation between bovids and equids. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.
  • Mannino, M., Thomas, K., Leng, M., Di Salvo, R. and M. P. Richards (2011) Upper Stuck to the shore? Investigating prehistoric hunter-gatherer subsistence, mobility and territoriality in a Mediterranean coastal landscape through isotope analyses on marine mollusc shell carbonates and human bone collagen. Quaternary International 244:88-104.
  • Oelze, V., Nehlich, O, and M. Richards (2012) There’s no place like home: No isotopic evidence for mobility at the Early Bronze Age cemetery of Singen, Germany. Archaeometry.
  • Talamo, S., Soressi, M., Roussel, M., Richards, M., and J.J. Hublin (2012) A radiocarbon chronology for the complete Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transitional sequence of Les Cottés (France).  Journal of Archaeological Science 39:175-183.
  • Copeland, S., Sponheimer, M., de Ruiter, D., Lee-Thorp, J., Codron, D., le Roux, P., Grimes, V. and M. Richards (2011) Strontium Isotope Evidence for Early Hominin Landscape Use. Nature 474:76-78.
  • Nehlich, O., Fuller, B., Jay, M., Mora, Al, Nicholson, R., Smith, C. and M. P. Richards (2011) Application of sulphur isotope ratios to examine weaning patterns and freshwater fish consumption in Roman Oxfordshire, UK. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 75:4963-4977.
  • Mannino, M., Di Salvo, R., Schimmenti, V., Di Patti, C., Incarbona, A., Sineo, L., and M.  P. Richards (2011) Upper Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer subsistence in Mediterranean coastal environments: an isotopic study of the diets of the earliest directly-dated humans from Sicily. Journal of Archaeological Science 38:3094-3100.
  • Bourbou, C., Fuller, B., Garvie-Lok, S., and M.P. Richards (2011) Reconstructing the diets of Greek Byzantine populations (6th–15th centuries AD) using carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 146:569-581.
  • Oelze, V., Fuller, B., Richards, M., Fruth, B., Surbeck, M., Hublin, J.J. and G. Gohmann (2011) Exploring the contribution and significance of animal protein in the diet of bonobos by stable isotope ratio analysis of hair. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 108:9792-9797.
  • Orton, D., Makowiecki, D., de Roo, T., Johnstone, C., Harland, J, Jonsson, L., Heinrich, D.,  Bødker Enghoff, I, Lõugas, L., Van Neer, W., Ervynck, A., Hufthammer, A-K., Amundsen, C., Jones, A., Locker, A., Hamilton-Dyer, S., Pope, P., MacKenzie, B.,  Richards, M., O’Connell, T., and J. Barrett (2011) Stable Isotope Evidence for Late Medieval (14th–15th C) Origins of the Eastern Baltic Cod (Gadus morhua) Fishery. PLoS ONE 6(11): e27568. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0027568
  • Talamo, S. and M. Richards (2011) A Comparison of bone pretreatment methods for AMS dating of samples >30,000 BP. Radiocarbon 53: 443-449.
  • Britton, K., Grimes, V., Niven, L., Steele, T., McPherron, S., Soressi, M., Kelly, T., Jauber, J., Hublin, J.J. and M. Richards (2011) Strontium isotope evidence for migration in late Pleistocene Rangifer: Implications for Neanderthal hunting strategies at the Middle Palaeolithic site of Jonzac, France.  Journal of Human Evolution 61:176-185.
  • Barrett, J., Orton, D., Johnstone, C., Harland, J., Van Neer, W., Ervynck, A., Roberts, C., Locker, A., Amundsen, C., Enghoff, I., Hamilton-Dyer, S., Heinrich, D., Hufthammer, A., Jones, A., Jonsson, L., Makowiecki, D., Pope, P., O’Connell, T., de Roo, T., and M. Richards (2011). Interpreting the expansion of sea fishing in medieval Europe using stable isotope analysis of archaeological cod bones, Journal of Archaeological Science 38: 1516-1524.
  • D’Andrea, C., Richards, M.P., Pavlish, L.A., Wood, S., Manzo, A., and H.S. Wolde-Kiros (2011) Stable isotopic analysis of human and animal diets from two pre-Aksumite/Proto-Aksumite archaeological sites in northern Ethiopia. Journal of Archaeological Science 38: 367-374 
  • Reich, D., Green, R., Kircher, M., Krause, J., Patterson, N., Durand, E., Viola, B., Briggs, A., Stenzel, U., Johnson, P., Maricic, T., Good, J., Marques-Bonet, T., Alkan, C., Fu, Q.,  Mallick, S., Li, H., Meyer, M., Eichler, E., Stoneking, M., Richards, M., Talamo, S., Shunkov, M., Derevianko, A., Hublin, J.-J., Kelso, J., Slatkin, M. and S. Paabo (2010) Genetic history of an archaic hominin group from Denisova Cave in Siberia. Nature 468:1053-1060.
  • Choy, K., Smith, C., Fuller, B., and M.P. Richards (2010) Investigation of amino acid d13C signatures in bone collagen to reconstruct human palaeodiets using liquid chromatography–isotope ratio mass spectrometry. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 74: 6093–6111.
  • Copeland, S.R., Sponheimer, M., Lee-Thorp, J.A., le Roux, P.J., de Ruiter, D.J., and M. P. Richards (2010) Strontium isotope ratios in fossil teeth from South Africa: assessing laser ablation MC-ICP-MS analysis and the extent of diagenesis. Journal of Archaeological Science 37:1437-1446
  • Choy, K., and M. P. Richards (2010) Isotopic evidence for diet in the Middle Chulmun period: a case study from the Tongsamdong shell midden, Korea. Anthropological and Archaeological Sciences 2:1-10
  • Fuller, B., Márquez-Grant, N., and M.P. Richards (2010)  Investigation of diachronic dietary patterns on the islands of Ibiza and Formentera, Spain: evidence from carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratio analysis. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 143:512-522
  • Choy, K., Jeon, O., Fuller, B.T., and M. P. Richards (2010) Isotopic evidence of dietary variations and weaning practices in the Gaya cemetery at Yeanri, Gimhae, South Korea. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 142:74-84
  • Nehlich, O., Borić, D., Stefanović, S., and M. P. Richards (2010) Sulphur isotope evidence for freshwater fish consumption: a case study from the Danube Gorges, SE Europe. Journal of Archaeological Science 37: 1131-1139
  • Le Bras-Goude,  G., Binder, D., Zemour, A., and M.P. Richards (2010). New radiocarbon dates and isotope analysis of Neolithic human and animal bone from the Fontbregoua Cave (Salernes, Var, France) Journal of Anthropological Sciences 88:167-178