Picture of  Barbara Veselka

Prof. Barbara Veselka

CRUMBEL, Memor, The Make-Up of the City, SEXI

I did my first Master on the indigenous peoples of Mexico at Leiden University (NL) and looked at trade patterns by analysing decorative styles in pottery. I graduated in 2000, but realised that my true passion lies with human remains. I had already gained experience with human remains during my field school in the French Antilles and my research stay in Mexico. At that time, it was not possible to study human remains outside the medical profession in the Netherlands. I left academia and started working as an entrepreneur advisor. In 2011, Leiden University, the Netherlands, started a new master, Human Osteology and Funerary Archaeology, in which I participated. The topic of my thesis was vitamin D deficiency.

After graduating in 2012, I started working as a physical anthropologist on commercial projects. I excavated and analysed over 1000 human remains, burnt and unburnt, most of which I could use for my part-time PhD research that I started in 2013 at Leiden University. During my doctoral study, I used the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in six human skeletal collections from the Netherlands as a proxy for reconstructing changes in human behavioural patterns and assessed the influence of these changes on health. I really benefitted from the skill I developed during my years as an entrepreneur advisor. I built my network of useful contacts in the archaeological and medical fields, which resulted in a number of fruitful (inter)national collaborations. I taught at Leiden and Groningen Universities, and undertook many forms of public outreach.

I obtained a postdoctoral research position before finishing my PhD within the Excellence of Science project CRUMBEL at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium, that focuses on cremated human remains and mobility in Belgium. 


  • PhD Human Osteoarchaeology, Archaeology, 2013 - 2018, Leiden University, The Netherlands
  • MSc Human Osteology and Funerary Archaeology, 2011 - 2012, Leiden University, The Netherlands
  • MA Archaeology of Meso-America, 1995 - 2000, Leiden University, The Netherlands

Key Research Interests

  • Vitamin D deficiency (macroscopic, µCT and microscopy)
  • Human cremated remains
  • Diet and Mobility
  • Bioarchaeology

Main Publications

  • Veselka, B, Snoeck, C. Interglobular dentine attributed to vitamin D deficiency visible in cremated human teeth. Scientific Reports 11: 20958
  • Veselka, B., Capuzzo, G., Annaert, R., Mattielli, N., Boudin, M., Dalle, S., Hlad, M.,  Salesse, K., Sengeløv, A., Stamataki, E., Tys, D., Vercauteren, M., Warmenbol, E., De Mulder, G. Snoeck, C. Divergence, diet, and disease: The identification of group identity, landscape use, health, and mobility in the 5th to 6th-century burial community of Echt, the Netherlands. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, volume 13: article number 97 (IF: 2.144), 2021
  • Veselka, B., Brickley, M.B., Waters-Rist, A.L. A joint medico-historical and palaeopathological perspective on vitamin D deficiency prevalence in post-Medieval Netherlands International Journal of Paleopathology   32: 41-49. (IF: 2.662), 2021
  • Veselka, B., Locher, H., De Groot, J.C.M.J., Davies, G.R., Snoeck, C., Kootker, L.M. Strontium isotope ratios related to childhood mobility: Revisiting sampling strategies of the calcined human pars petrosa ossis temporalis. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, Volume 35: e9038. (IF: 2.200), 2021
  • Veselka, B., Hlad, M., Wolfe Steadman, D., Annaert, H., Boudin, M., Capuzzo, G., Dalle, S., Kontopoulos, I., De Mulder, G., Sabaux, C., Salesse, K., Sengeløv, A., Stamataki, E., Vercauteren, M., Tys, D., Snoeck, C. Estimating age-at-death in burnt adult human remains using the Falys–Prangle method. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Volume 175:128-136. (IF:2.662), 2021
  • Veselka, B., Brickley, M.B., D’Ortenzio, L.L., Kahlon, B., Hoogland, M.L.P., Waters-Rist, A.L. Micro-CT assessment of dental mineralization defects indicative of vitamin D deficiency in two 17th - 19th century Dutch communities. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 169: 122-131, DOI (IF 2.662), 2019
  • Veselka, B., Van der Merwe, A.E., Hoogland, M.L.P., Waters-Rist, A.L. Gender-related vitamin D deficiency in a Dutch 19th century farming community. International Journal of Paleopathology 23: 69-75 (IF 1.301) 2018
  • Veselka, B., Hoogland, M.L.P., Waters-Rist, A.L. Rural rickets: vitamin D deficiency in a Post-Medieval farming community from the Netherlands International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 25: 665-675 (IF 1.180). 2015

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