Mélie Le Roy


Melie Le Roy is a specialist in physical anthropology with particular interest in the study of funerary practices related to children.

She is also a field archaeologist and is currently leading two projects in the South of France, involving the excavation of a cave and a dolmen, both of which date to the Late Neolithic. Her research extends beyond France and she is a member of an international team excavating a Roman necropolis in Egypt. She joined ArcPal on 1st September 2019 to take up a one-year lecturing post.

Melie graduated at the University of Bordeaux in France, her PhD (awarded in 2015) concerned social consideration to children through the study of funerary practices in Neolithic France – a project that involved applying GIS techniques to funerary sites to enable a deeper understanding to be gained in relation to burial practices at both site and regional levels. As a full-time lecturer, Melie will teach Prehistory and Funerary Archaeology at Queen’s and also supervise undergraduate students in osteoarchaeology.


Human osteoarchaeology • Physical Anthropology • Funerary practices • Archaeology of childhood

Current research

Analysis of late Neolithic collective burial sites in the South of France to define differences in funerary practices and biological and biogeochemical data between populations buried within natural cavities and megalithic monuments.
Each funerary assemblage is characterised to discuss a possible selection of individuals according to burial location (Cave and Megalith). Teeth and bones are used to inform the health status, and thus clarify whether the individuals buried in the cave were healthier than the people buried inside the megaliths, or vice versa. The main goal, is to identify potential social criteria according to the burial location. A study of non-metric anatomical traits and teeth allows to biologically characterise each collective burial, helping to determine if the cave population is biologically similar or distant from that found inside the megaliths. Finally, biogeochemical analyzes identify whether wide dietary differences can be detected between people buried in megalithic tombs and caves, suggesting either social differences between the two groups or different origins.
Thus, it will be possible to compare the demographic composition of funerary deposits between caves and megaliths at the regional scale and conclude if they belonged to the same cultural group and if the difference in funerary practices symbolized a different status or if these two distinct locations represent two groups sharing a restricted territory.


  • Since 2017 : Field supervisor at the cave Janna (Gard, France), Early Bronze age collective burial site
  • Since 2017 : Field supervisor at the Dolmen des Abrits 2 (Ardèche, France), Late Neolithic collective burial site
  • Since 2015 : Physicail anthropologist specialist of the site Kôm Abou Billou (Egypt), Roman times (Supervisor S. Dhennin)

Administrative duties

Co-editor of the revue Ardeche Archeologie


  • 2019: LabexMed publication funding [1.000€]: Translating funding for the Special Issue of Childhood in the Past; LabexMed conference funding [1.500€]: Funding for symposium organisation on collective burials diversity at the end of Neolithic; Regional archaeological service conference funding [2.000€]: Funding for symposium organisation on collective burials diversity at the end of Neolithic.
  • 2018: SAMRA grant [500€]: 3rd award of the young researcher in Prehistory and Anthropology; Conference fund Staff [£350]: to present in an International conference.
  • 2017: QUB Annual Fund [£1.000]: To bring Queen’s University Belfast’s Students on a Fieldwork: Dolmen des Abrits 2 (Ardèche); Charlemont Grant (Royal Irish Academy) [1.430€]: to study a bone collection from a Collective burial site.
  • 2016: Orgnac Museum research funding [2.000€]: Master research gratification
  • 2014 : Regional archaeological service research funding [2.000€]: Master research gratification

 10 Most relevant publications  (up to 2020)

Le Roy M. and Murphy E. – 2020 – Archaeothanatology as a Tool for Interpreting Death During Pregnancy: Examples from Medieval Ireland, in: R. Gowland and S. Halcrow (eds) The Mother-Infant Nexus in Anthropology: Small beginnings, significant outcomes, p.211-233.

Le Roy M. and Polet C. – 2019 – Children at work: looking for evidences, in Le Roy M. and Polet C. (eds) Children at Work, Childhood in the Past, 12, 2, p.57-66.

Le Roy M., Picavet P., Dhennin S. – 2019 – La dernière phase d’occupation de la nécropole de Kôm Abou Billou : données archéologiques et anthropologiques inédites, BIFAO, 118, p.269-282.

Le Roy M. – 2018 – The value of recent biochemical analysis towards collective burial sites, In: A. Schmitt, S. Dédérix et I. Crevecoeur, Gathered in Death: Archaeological and Ethnological Perspectives on Collective Burial and Social Organisation. Louvain-la-Neuve: Presse Universitaire de Louvain, p. 189-195.

Le Roy M., Rottier S., Santos F., Tillier A-m – 2018 – Funerary treatment of immature deceased in Neolithic collective burial sites in France. Were the children buried with adults., In : Lillehammer, G. and Murphy, E. (eds.). Across the Generations: The Old and Young in Past Societies. Childhood in the Past Monograph Series 8, 2018, AmS-Skrifter 26, Museum of Archaeology, University of Stavanger, p.21-34.

Le Roy M., Rottier S., Tillier A-m. – 2018 – Who was a “child” during the Neolithic in France? Childhood in the Past, 11 (2), p 68-84.

Le Roy M. – 2018 – Des « dents-outils » : Étude préliminaire des restes humains de la population du Néolithique final du dolmen de Gabiane 6 (Labeaume). Ardèche Archéologie, 35, p.12-18.

Murphy E. and Le Roy M. (eds) – 2017 – Children, Death and Burial: Archaeological Discourses, Oxford: Oxbow Books, 273p.

Le Roy M., Henry-Gambier D. – 2017 – Vestiges humains du Magdalénien du Sud-Ouest de la France : inventaire et description de l’enfant de l’abri Lafaye (Tarn et Garonne), Paléo, 28, p.157-178.

Le Roy M., Rivollat M., Mendisco F., Pemonge M.H., Coutelier C., Couture C., Tillier A.m., Rottier S., Deguilloux M.F. – 2016 – Distinct ancestries for similar funerary practices? A GIS analysis that compares funerary with biological and aDNA data from the Middle Neolithic necropolis Gurgy “Les Noisats” (Yonne, France), Journal of Archaeological Science, 73, p. 45-54.

Email: Melie.LeRoy@qub.ac.uk

(Image: Kom Abou Billou, Egypt – M. Le Roy)