Jacqueline T. Eng, Ph.D.
Department of Anthropology
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, MI 49008





My interest in China stems from an early curiosity about my cultural heritage and from a longstanding fascination relating to social transitions and their consequences upon human health during China’s long history. I began my research here in 2003 when I was awarded the Humanities and Social Sciences Research Grant (UCSB) to travel to northeast China’s Jilin University. I began to formulate my dissertation research design after preliminary analysis from agro-pastoral finds while visiting a Jilin University’s research institute in Chifeng, Inner Mongolia.

Collecting data at the Research Center for Chinese Frontier Archaeology of Jilin University

Jilin U Research


Nomadic Pastoralists and the Chinese Empire:
A Bioarchaeological Study of China’s Northern Frontier
{PDF, 1.87 MB}

In 2004, I was awarded grants from Fulbright-Hays: Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Program and the University of California Pacific Rim Research Program to fund dissertation research conducted at Jilin University. My research focused on the role nomadic pastoral groups played in China’s cultural development. I have explored this issue through bioarchaeological studies of over 1000 individuals from 12 archaeological sites along China’s northern steppe frontier. I presented the results {10 KB} of some of my findings at the 2006 71st SAA meeting in San Juan.

Research 2006 - Present
During the summer of 2006, Dr. Phillip Walker and I visited several key research institutions in China. We were awarded funding by UCSB’s ISBER Social Science Research Grants Program to begin a pilot study {10 KB} of ancient Chinese health via adult stature data. We also discussed future collaborative projects with scholars at Jilin University (Changchun), the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (Beijing), the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (Beijing), and the Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology (Zhengzhou).

I am a co-author of two posters {14 KB} that were presented at the 76th AAPA meeting in Philadelphia at a symposium I co-organized and co-chaired with Dr. Kate Pechenkina ("Bioarchaeoligical Perspectives on Migration and Human Health in Ancient East Asia"). One poster {41.1 kB} documents the results of our recent 2006 health study of socioeconomic change in ancient China. In the second poster, my Chinese colleagues and I present our findings of trauma {1.89MB} in a group of agro-pastoralists from northern China. The papers presented at this symposium will be published as an edited volume by University of Florida Press in 2013.

In 2008, a Mount Holyoke Faculty Grant funded my summer visit to China where I collected new osteological data from two sites. These data of Neolithic and Bronze Age populations from Qinghai contribute and extend the breadth of my data on frontier populations, particularly from earlier periods.

In 2009, my Chinese colleagues and I presented a poster {536 kB} on our isotopic dietary reconstuction of Bronze Age and Iron Age skeletal material in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. I returned to the East Asian region that summer.


During 2009, I also began research in Mongolia, studying collections at the National University of Mongolia. Data I collected from Xiongnu and Mongol period collections regarding arthritic patterns among these pastoral populations were compared to data from China in a poster {678 kB} my colleagues and I presented at the 75th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in April, 2010. Another poster comparing health {195} variables among samples from the Xiongnu and Mongol periods was presented at the 76th Annual Meeting of SAA in 2011. At the 2012 BARFAA conference I presented a poster on the morphometric analysis of acetabular rim shape {676kb} among pastoralists.


Beginning in 2010, I joined a team of archaeologists, historians, linguists, and other specialists in the anthropologoical exploration of the settlement history of the Upper Mustang region of Nepal. Some of our preliminary results, including evidence of de-fleshing in an ancient burial practice, and pictures were posted online in National Geographic's Daily News on March 1, 2011. A National Geographic Special,Cave People of the Himalaya, premiered on February 15, 2012 on PBS, with the full video available online (55min). In 2012, findings on the mortuary practice {256}were presented at the 81st AAPA Annual Meeting.



Peking Man Museum

With Phil Walker at Zhoukoudian in 2006

Mustang, Nepal

Analysis of human materials from cave contexts





©2013 Jacqueline T. Eng. All Rights Reserved.