Megan Perry

(PhD, New Mexico, 2002)
Office: 221 Flanagan Building
Telephone: 252-328-9434

About Me

I am an Associate Professor of Biological Anthropology (and a member of the Classical Studies Program) and have been at ECU since 2003. I teach courses on human osteology, death and disease in Classical antiquity, human health and disease ecology, and forensic anthropology. Most of my research focuses on 1st century B.C. – 7th century A.D. Jordan, but I supervise graduate students interested in numerous aspects of forensic anthropology and bioarchaeology. Some recent examples of MA theses that I have directed include bioarchaeological analyses of Late Woodland burials and an 18th century A.D. family crypt in North Carolina, documenting decomposition rates of pig carcasses in eastern North Carolina, and using CT scanning to assess lesions in the upper eye orbit.

For most of my career, my interests have been twofold: 1) to understand ancient health and disease patterns through analysis of bone pathologies and 2) to assess population mobility using strontium and oxygen isotope analysis of human dental enamel. In addition, I have begun collaborating with Dr. Tosha Dupras (University of Central Florida) and Dr. Lana Williams (Muhlenberg College) on exploring seasonal shifts in diet and water sources via segmental analysis of hair recovered from three sites in Jordan: Khirbet Kazun (1st – 3rd centuries A.D.), Humayma (1st – 5th centuries A.D.) and Wadi Mudayfa’at (1st – 3rd centuries A.D.).

I have been working on archaeological projects in Jordan for almost 20 years and am a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR) in Amman, Jordan. I currently am Co-Director of the Petra North Ridge Project (with Dr. S. Thomas Parker of North Carolina State University), which focuses on the excavation of 1st century A.D. tombs and 1st – 4th century domestic structures and is run as a field school through NCSU. I additionally am part of the Eastern Badia Project (Directed by Gary Rollefson of Whitman College and Yorke Rowan of the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago), which seeks to explore Late Neolithic (6500-4500 B.C.) and Chalcolithic (4500-3200 B.C.) mortuary practices and domestic structures in the eastern desert of Jordan.

In addition to my research in Jordan, I collaborate with forensic pathologists at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine and local law enforcement agencies on regional forensic anthropology cases, assisting with body location and recovery and forensic anthropological development of an individual’s biological profile and positive identification. We are working on a long-term project to develop better indicators for estimation the post-mortem interval in eastern North Carolina.

Educational Background

2002 PhD in Anthropology, University of New Mexico
1993 MA in Anthropology, Case Western Reserve University
1992 BA in Anthropology, Boston University

Current Field Projects
  • Petra North Ridge Project (Jordan)
  • Eastern Badia Project (Jordan)
  • 87Sr/86Sr and δ18O perspectives of population mobility (Jordan), analyzing dental samples from:
    • Aila (Aqaba)
    • Khirbet edh-Dharih
    • Khirbet Faynan (ancient Phaeno)
    • Khirbet Kazun
    • Petra
  • Dietary variability in Nabataean and Early Roman Jordan, analyzing hair samples from:
    • Khirbet Kazun
    • Wadi Mudayfa'at
    • Humayma

Selected Publications (*co-authored with student)

Edited Volumes

Perry, M.A. (ed.). (2012) Bioarchaeology and Behavior: The People of the Ancient Near East. University Press of Florida, Gainesville (Publication date: October 14, 2012).

Journal Articles

Rollefson, G.O., Rowan Y., and M. Perry. (2011) A Late Neolithic dwelling at Wisad Pools, Black Desert. Neo-Lithics 1/11:35-43.

Perry, M.A., Coleman D.S., Dettman D., Grattan J.P., and A.H. al-Shiyab. (2011) Condemned to metallum: The origin and role of 4th – 6th century A.D. Phaeno mining camp residents using multiple chemical techniques. Journal of Archaeological Science 38:558-569.

Perry, M.A., Drew S. Coleman, David L. Dettman, and Abdel Halim al-Shiyab. (2011) An isotopic perspective on the transport of Byzantine mining camp laborers into southwestern Jordan. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 140:429-441.

*Perry, M. A., Jessica A. Newnam, and M.G.F. Gilliland. (2008) Differential diagnosis of a calcified object from a 4th-5th century A.D. burial in Aqaba, Jordan. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 18:507-522.

Perry, M.A. (2007) Is bioarchaeology a handmaiden to history? Developing a historical bioarchaeology. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 26:486-515.

Perry, M.A. (2003) Life and death in Nabataea: the North Ridge Tombs and Nabataean burial practices. Near Eastern Archaeology 65: 265-270.

Book Chapters:

* Montgomery, R.T. and Perry, M.A. (2012) The social and cultural implications of violence at Qasr Hallabt. In: The Bioarchaeology of Violence, D.L. Martin, R.P. Harrod, and V.R. Perez, eds. University Press of Florida, Gainesville (Publication date: August 19, 2012).

Perry, M.A. and P.M. Bikai. (2012 in press) The Abandonment of Petra: Remains of the Invisible: Post-Byzantine Archaeology of Petra's North Ridge. In: Shawbak, i Castelli di Petra e la Transgiordania Crociato-Ayyubide. G. Vannini, ed. BAR International Series, Oxford.

Perry, M.A. (2012 under review) Tracking the second epidemiological transition using bioarchaeological data on infant morbidity and mortality. In: Moving the Middle to the Foreground: Revisiting the Second Epidemiological Transition, M.K. Zuckerman, ed. Wiley-Liss, New York.

Perry, M.A. (2012) History of paleopathology in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Pp. 451-469 in History of Paleopathology. JE Buikstra and C Roberts, eds. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Perry, M.A. and P.M. Bikai. (2007) Petra’s churches: the Byzantines and beyond. Pp. 435-443 in: Crossing Jordan: North American Contributions to the Archaeology of Jordan. T. Levy, P.M. Michèle Daviau, R.W. Younker, and M. Shaer, eds. Equinox Publishing, London.

Perry, M.A. (2006) Redefining childhood through bioarchaeology: toward an archaeological and biological understanding of children in antiquity. Pp. 89-111 in: Children in Action: Perspectives in the Archaeology of Childhood. Jane Eva Baxter, ed. Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association (AP3A) 15.

Personal Pages and Links

Bioarchaeology Page
Petra Project


Department News

Excavations in the Western Negev Highlands: Results of the Negev Emergency Survey 1978-89  by Dr. Benjamin Saidel and co-author M. Haimon was published December 2014 by British Archaeological Reports. See here for more.


Haley Drabek translated the Tyrrell Water Management Study finalized in 2014 into 9 separate brochures, one for each proposed water management district. She spent six weeks visiting property owners in each district to explain the benefits of participating in the localized water management district and asking for signatures of intent to join.

Anna Claire researched existing oral history booklets at the Tyrrell Visitor Center and then interviewed elderly Tyrrell County residents who grew up in the county. She taped these interviews for safe keeping at the Visitor Center and is currently writing narrative reports of the collected information, one for each conversation partner. These reports will be bound and held at the Tyrrell County Visitor Center for interested readers. Anna Claire has also been involved with a group of children in the county with a diverse ethnic background. Under Anna Claire's direction the children are currently writing a newsletter that will report on the children's experiences of growing up in Tyrrell County, exploring their favorite places, activities, and hopes for their future.  

 Click here to see Anthropology's latest Newsletter

 Dr. Holly Mathews and Dr. Laura Mazow were recognized for their outstanding teaching methods by students during the Spring 2015 semester from the College STAR.

Student response for Dr. Mathews:

"She gives feedback and forces her students to expand their mind and explore alternate theories or explanations. She wants her students to discuss topics in class instead of just listening to her talk the entire time."

Student response for Dr. Mazow:

"We have a small class which allows many opportunities for a lot of class discussion...She always provides feedback and answers to our journal entries and is always available when we need help." 

Congratulations to them both!

This summer two undergraduate anthropology students at East Carolina University, Tyler Beasley and Anna Lawrence, worked as interns for the Hyde County Office of Planning and Economic Development through the State Employees' Credit Union Foundation public service internship program. Both interns worked on research projects aimed at improving economic development by better understanding the needs of the local business community.


Marina Clough, also an undergraduate anthropology student at East Carolina University, completed an internship at Wanchese Industrial Park and provided an overview of webpages and print media that write or advertise about sailing related events, helped plan the Regatta of Sail NC and conducted 40 interviews with participants.

Dr. Charles Ewen interviewed for the New York Times. Is it the Roanoke Island Colony? Read more to find out!