Skip navigation
The Australian National University

Mr Ian Gilligan


Position: PhD candidate in Bioanthropology


Thesis title: Ice-Age climates and clothing

My academic background is in medicine, science, and prehistory and my special interest is the prehistoric development of clothing in relation to environmental conditions. My PhD research examines the interaction between morphological and behavioural adaptations to cold among recent (Holocene) and late Pleistocene human groups. The morphological aspect relates primarily to body build and the main behavioural aspect of interest is the minimum thermal requirement for clothing. One osteological indication of thermal adaptation relates to the angle of the femoral neck with respect to the shaft (the neck-shaft angle, NSA), although other factors such as habitual activity levels have been implicated. Since femora are generally among the most common and well-preserved elements in skeletal collections, the NSA may provide a useful index of variation in morphological cold adaptation among human groups. Well-provenanced skeletal collections from as many regions world-wide as possible are sought to explore variation is this femoral parameter (along with other measures such as head diameter, cross-sectional shaft dimensions and bicondylar breadth) which can be examined in relation to local environmental conditions and clothing requirements (if any). Some of the wider implications of this research relate to human adaptive responses to late Pleistocene climates, notably archaeological evidence for the development of clothing technologies that may be relevant to issues such as the demise of Neanderthals and the emergence of modern human behaviour.


Updated: 17 November 2010/ Responsible Officer:  Head of School / Page Contact:  Web Publisher