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Alexandra Morton-Hayward

Forensic anthropologist

Iā€™m fascinated by decomposition, and how soft tissues ā€“ which are usually quick to decay ā€“ enter the fossil record. I worked as an Undertaker and Embalmer while studying a Masters in Bioarchaeology & Forensic Anthropology at UCL, and saw first-hand how rapidly the brain deteriorates after death; so it was a surprise to discover reports of a 2,500-year-old brain surviving from the Iron Age! My doctoral research at Oxford has since uncovered more than 4,400 human brains preserved in the archaeological record. I aim to understand why the brain preserves when other organs perish, and what they can tell us about our human history.