I am a zooarchaeologist, whose focus is primarily on colonisation and colonialism. My zooarchaeological research has used butchery analysis (with the benefit of professional and ethnographic actualistic experience) to investigate agency within the human-animal relationship. More recently, I have employed geometric morphometrics (GMM) as a mechanism for identifying and distinguishing animal populations. This approach to studying colonial activity centres on understanding how people manipulate animal bodies, both during life and after death.

Alongside the strictly faunal research is a research interest in technologies associated with animal processing. This has been used to investigate issues of technology, trade and socio-economic attitudes within colonial contexts in the Mediterranean (Venice & Montenegro) and the Baltic (Poland, Latvia & Lithuania).

I am also the Director of the ‘Mauritian Archaeology and Cultural Heritage’ (MACH) project, which studies European Imperialism and colonial activity. This project centres on the movement of peoples and material cultures, specifically within the contexts of slavery and Diaspora. The work of this project has focused on key sites in Mauritius and is based on a systematic programme of excavation and environmental sampling. The underlying aims are to better understand the transition from slavery to indentured labour following abolition, the extent and diversity of trade in the region and the environmental consequences of intense, monoculture, agriculture.

Academic Appointments

Administrative Appointments

  • Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Stanford University (2012 - Present)
  • Lecturer in Archaeology, University of Central Lancashire (2010 - 2012)
  • ERC Research Fellow, Reading University (2011 - 2014)
  • Associate Fellow, McDonald Institute (2010 - 2014)
  • Scientific Fellow, Scientific Research Centre, Slovenia (2010 - 2011)
  • External Consultant, Truth & Justice Commission, Mauritius. (2009 - 2011)
  • Leverhulme Research Associate, McDonald Institute (2007 - 2010)

Honors & Awards

  • English Heritage Award for Presenting Heritage Research., BA Festival Of Science (2003)
  • Highly Commended for The Foundation Essay, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge (2003)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • Member, Colloquium committee, Anthropology Department, Stanford University (2013 - 2014)
  • Member, Graduate Admissions committee, Anthropology Department, Stanford University (2013 - 2014)
  • Member, Graduate Development committee, Anthropology Department, Stanford University (2013 - 2014)
  • Member, Colloquium committee, Anthropology Department, Stanford University (2012 - 2013)
  • Member, TA committee, Anthropology Department, Stanford University (2012 - 2013)
  • Member, Centennial TA Award committee, Anthropology Department, Stanford University (2012 - 2013)
  • Member, Archaebotany Post-doc Recruitment committee, Archeology Center, Stanford University (2013 - 2013)
  • Member, Archaeological Science Post-doc Recruitment committee, Archeology Center, Stanford University (2013 - 2013)
  • Speaker, Archaeology Council Annual Meeting, Archeology Center, Stanford University (2012 - 2012)
  • Out-of-department University Chair, Ph.D. defense in Classics, Stanford University (2013 - 2013)
  • Member, Marshall Rhodes candidate selection committee, Stanford University (2012 - 2012)
  • Reviewer, Graduate Women in Science Fellowship (2013 - 2013)
  • Reviewer, Reviews in History, Institute for Historical Research (2013 - 2013)
  • Member, Society of Antiquaries of London
  • Member, Society for Post Medieval Archaeology (SPMA)
  • Member, European Association of Archaeologists (EAA)
  • Member, International Council for Archaeozoology (ICAZ)
  • Member, The Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies
  • Member, The Society for Medieval Archaeology
  • Member, Cambridge Philosophical Society (CPS)
  • Member, Stanford Archaeology Center, Stanford
  • Member, Center for South Asia, Stanford
  • Member, The Europe Center, Stanford
  • Member, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford
  • Member, Center for African Studies, Stanford
  • Member, Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Stanford

Professional Education

  • B.Sc., University of Surrey, Biological Sciences (1996)
  • M.Sc., University of Surrey, Ecology for Sustainable Development (1998)
  • M.Sc., Bournemouth University, Osteoarchaeology (2002)
  • Ph.D, University of Cambridge, Archaelogy (2007)


  • The Mauritian Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Project: exploring the impact of colonialism and colonisation in the Indian Ocean, Stanford University

    Modern Mauritius had its naissance in 1721 when a group of French colonists from Reunion established the first French settlement on the island. Its strategic position made it the focus of successive waves of colonising powers all of whom left their material markers. Despite this, there has been limited examination based on systematic methods-driven archaeology addressing the islands role as a colonial enclave. It was an important trading post between the Spice Islands and Europe and became a long-term colony with European, African and Indo-Chinese influence. As a volcanic island lacking any indigenous population it also presents an exceptional opportunity to establish baseline data detailing specific environmental conditions within the Indian Ocean.



2022-23 Courses

Stanford Advisees

All Publications

  • Global Health Needs Modernized Containment Strategies to Prepare for the Next Pandemic. Frontiers in public health Seetah, K., Moots, H., Pickel, D., Van Cant, M., Cianciosi, A., Mordecai, E., Cullen, M., Maldonado, Y. 2022; 10: 834451


    COVID-19 continues to be a public health crisis, while severely impacting global financial markets causing significant economic and social hardship. As with any emerging disease, pharmaceutical interventions required time, emphasizing the initial and continuing need for non-pharmaceutical interventions. We highlight the role of anthropological and historical perspectives to inform approaches to non-pharmaceutical interventions for future preparedness. The National Academy of Medicine, a not-for-profit, non-governmental US-based medical watchdog organization, published a key document early in the COVID-19 pandemic which points to inadequate quarantine and containment infrastructure as a significant obstacle to an effective pandemic response. In considering how to implement effective quarantine policies and infrastructure, we argue that it is essential to take a longitudinal approach to assess interventions that have been effective in past pandemics while simultaneously addressing and eliminating the negative socio-historical legacies of ineffective quarantine practices. Our overview reinforces the need for social equity and compassion when implementing containment.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fpubh.2022.834451

    View details for PubMedID 35769777

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC9234159

  • Editorial: Early Human Colonization of Remote Indian Ocean Islands and Its Ecological Impacts FRONTIERS IN ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION Anderson, A., Clark, G., Haberle, S., Larson, G., Seetah, K. 2022; 10
  • Colonization During Colonialism: Developing a Framework to Assess the Rapid Ecological Transformation of Mauritius's Pristine Ecosystem FRONTIERS IN ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION Seetah, K., Manfio, S., Balbo, A., Farr, R., Florens, F. 2022; 10
  • Integrated Remote Sensing to Assess Disease Control: Evidence from Flat Island Quarantine Station, Mauritius REMOTE SENSING Cianciosi, A., Caval, S., Calaon, D., Seetah, K. 2022; 14 (8)

    View details for DOI 10.3390/rs14081891

    View details for Web of Science ID 000787405400001

  • Mapping of Underwater Cultural Heritage: The Geophysical Survey and Data Management of HMS Sirius Shipwreck Mamode, S. H., Runghen, H., Munnaroo, S., Bissessur, D., Coopen, P., von Arnim, Y., Manfio, S., Seetah, K., Motah, B. A., Badal, R., IEEE IEEE. 2022
  • Africa and the Indian Ocean World from Early Times to Circa 1900 (Book Review) AFRICAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL REVIEW Book Review Authored by: Seetah, K. 2021
  • Colonialism, slavery and 'The Great Experiment': Carbon, nitrogen and oxygen isotope analysis of Le Morne and Bois Marchand cemeteries, Mauritius JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL SCIENCE-REPORTS Lightfoot, E., Caval, S., Calaon, D., Appleby, J., Santana, J., Cianciosi, A., Fregel, R., Seetah, K. 2020; 31
  • Archaeology and contemporary emerging zoonosis: A framework for predicting future Rift Valley fever virus outbreaks INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF OSTEOARCHAEOLOGY Seetah, K., LaBeaud, D., Kumm, J., Grossi-Soyster, E., Anangwe, A., Barry, M. 2020

    View details for DOI 10.1002/oa.2862

    View details for Web of Science ID 000512278200001

  • The Baltic Crusades and ecological transformation: The zooarchaeology of conquest and cultural change in the Eastern Baltic in the second millennium AD QUATERNARY INTERNATIONAL Pluskowski, A., Makowiecki, D., Maltby, M., Rannamae, E., Lougas, L., Maldre, L., Daugnora, L., Black, S., Muldner, G., Seetah, K. 2019; 510: 28–43
  • Late-Medieval Horse Remains at Cesis Castle, Latvia, and the Teutonic Order's Equestrian Resources in Livonia MEDIEVAL ARCHAEOLOGY Pluskowski, A., Seetah, K., Maltby, M., Banerjea, R., Black, S., Kalnins, G. 2018; 62 (2): 351–79
  • A multi-proxy, diachronic and spatial perspective on the urban activities within an indigenous community in medieval Riga, Latvia Banerjea, R., Badura, M., Kalejs, U., Cerina, A., Gos, K., Hamilton-Dyer, S., Maltby, M., Seetah, K., Pluskowski, A. PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD. 2017: 3–21
  • Disease ecology, health and the environment: a framework to account for ecological and socio-economic drivers in the control of neglected tropical diseases PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES Garchitorena, A., Sokolow, S. H., Roche, B., Ngonghala, C. N., Jocque, M., Lund, A., Barry, M., MORDECAI, E. A., Daily, G. C., Jones, J. H., Andrews, J. R., Bendavid, E., Luby, S. P., LaBeaud, A. D., Seetah, K., Guegan, J. F., Bonds, M. H., De Leo, G. A. 2017; 372 (1722)


    Reducing the burden of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) is one of the key strategic targets advanced by the Sustainable Development Goals. Despite the unprecedented effort deployed for NTD elimination in the past decade, their control, mainly through drug administration, remains particularly challenging: persistent poverty and repeated exposure to pathogens embedded in the environment limit the efficacy of strategies focused exclusively on human treatment or medical care. Here, we present a simple modelling framework to illustrate the relative role of ecological and socio-economic drivers of environmentally transmitted parasites and pathogens. Through the analysis of system dynamics, we show that periodic drug treatments that lead to the elimination of directly transmitted diseases may fail to do so in the case of human pathogens with an environmental reservoir. Control of environmentally transmitted diseases can be more effective when human treatment is complemented with interventions targeting the environmental reservoir of the pathogen. We present mechanisms through which the environment can influence the dynamics of poverty via disease feedbacks. For illustration, we present the case studies of Buruli ulcer and schistosomiasis, two devastating waterborne NTDs for which control is particularly challenging.This article is part of the themed issue 'Conservation, biodiversity and infectious disease: scientific evidence and policy implications'.

    View details for DOI 10.1098/rstb.2016.0128

    View details for PubMedID 28438917

  • Colonial iron in context: the Trianon slave shackle from Mauritius ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND ANTHROPOLOGICAL SCIENCES Seetah, K., Birch, T., Calaon, D., Caval, S. 2017; 9 (3): 419-430
  • Survival at the Frontier of Holy War: Political Expansion, Crusading, Environmental Exploitation and the Medieval Colonizing Settlement at Biala Gora, North Poland REVISTA UNIVERSITARIA DE HISTORIA MILITAR Sawicki, Z., Pluskowski, A., Brown, A., Badura, M., Makowiecki, D., Shillito, L., Zabilska-Kunek, M., Seetah, K. 2017; 6 (12): 50–84
  • A 'long-fuse domestication' of the horse? Tooth shape suggests explosive change in modern breeds compared with extinct populations and living Przewalski's horses HOLOCENE Seetah, K., Cardini, A., Barker, G. 2016; 26 (8): 1326-1333
  • Contextualizing Complex Social Contact: Mauritius, a Microcosm of Global Diaspora CAMBRIDGE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL Seetah, K. 2016; 26 (2): 265-283
  • The archaeology of Mauritius ANTIQUITY Seetah, K. 2015; 89 (346): 922-939
  • How many specimens do I need? Sampling error in geometric morphometrics: testing the sensitivity of means and variances in simple randomized selection experiments ZOOMORPHOLOGY Cardini, A., Seetah, K., Barker, G. 2015; 134 (2): 149-163
  • Objects past, objects present: Materials, resistance and memory from the Le Morne Old Cemetery, Mauritius JOURNAL OF SOCIAL ARCHAEOLOGY Seetah, K. 2015; 15 (2): 233-253
  • Survival at the Frontier of Holy War: Political Expansion, Crusading, Environmental Exploitation and the Medieval Colonizing Settlement at Biala Gora, North Poland EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGY Sawicki, Z., Pluskowski, A., Brown, A., Badura, M., Makowiecki, D., Shillito, L., Zabilska-Kunek, M., Seetah, K. 2015; 18 (2): 282-311
  • 'The Minister will tell the nation': the role of the media for archaeology in Mauritius WORLD ARCHAEOLOGY Seetah, K. 2015; 47 (2): 285-298
  • Biala Gora: the forgotten colony in the medieval Pomeranian-Prussian borderlands ANTIQUITY Pluskowski, A., Sawicki, Z., Shillito, L., Badura, M., Makowiecki, D., Zabilska-Kunek, M., Seetah, K., Brown, A. 2014; 88 (341): 863-882
  • A geometric morphometric re-evaluation of the use of dental form to explore differences in horse (Equus caballus) populations and its potential zooarchaeological application JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL SCIENCE Seetah, K., Cucchi, T., Dobney, K., Barker, G. 2014; 41: 904-910
  • Geometric morphometrics and environmental archaeology The Encyclopaedia of Global Archaeology Seetah, K. edited by Smith, C. Springer Press, Berlin. 2014: 3029–3036
  • Multiple ethnic origins of mitochondrial DNA lineages for the population of mauritius. PloS one Fregel, R., Seetah, K., Betancor, E., Suárez, N. M., Calaon, D., Caval, S., Janoo, A., Pestano, J. 2014; 9 (3)


    This article reports on the first genetic assessment of the contemporary Mauritian population. Small island nodes such as Mauritius played a critical role in historic globalization processes and revealing high-resolution details of labour sourcing is crucial in order to better understand early-modern diaspora events. Mauritius is a particularly interesting case given detailed historic accounts attesting to European (Dutch, French and British), African and Asian points of origin. Ninety-seven samples were analysed for mitochondrial DNA to begin unravelling the complex dynamics of the island's modern population. In corroboration with general demographic information, the majority of maternal lineages were derived from South Asia (58.76%), with Malagasy (16.60%), East/Southeast Asian (11.34%) and Sub-Saharan African (10.21%) also making significant contributions. This study pinpoints specific regional origins for the South Asian genetic contribution, showing a greater influence on the contemporary population from northern and southeast India. Moreover, the analysis of lineages related to the slave trade demonstrated that Madagascar and East Asia were the main centres of origin, with less influence from West Africa.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0093294

    View details for PubMedID 24676463

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3968120

  • New technology or adaptation at the frontier? Butchery as a signifier of cultural transitions in the medieval Eastern Baltic Life at the Frontier: The Ecological Signatures of Human Colonisation in the North Seetah, K., Pluskowski, A., Makowiecki, D., Daugnora, L. edited by Pluskowski, A. Klaipeda. 2014: 59–77
  • A. Animal Encounters: Human and Animal Interaction in Britain from the Norman Conquest to World War One. Reviews in History MacGregor, A. 2013; 1448
  • Animal Encounters: Human and Animal Interaction in Britain from the Norman Conquest to World War Once Reviews in History Seetah, K. 2013; 1448
  • Genetic stability in the Icelandic horse breed ANIMAL GENETICS Campana, M. G., Stock, F., Barrett, E., Benecke, N., BARKER, G. W., Seetah, K., Bower, M. A. 2012; 43 (4): 447-449


    Despite the Icelandic horse enjoying great popularity worldwide, the breed's gene pool is small. This is because of a millennium of isolation on Iceland, population crashes caused by natural disasters and selective breeding. Populations with small effective population sizes are considered to be more at risk of selection pressures such as disease and environmental change. By analysing historic and modern mitochondrial DNA sequences and nuclear coat colour genes, we examined real-time population dynamics in the Icelandic horse over the last 150 years. Despite the small gene pool of this breed, we found that the effective population size and genetic profile of the Icelandic horse have remained stable over the studied time period.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/j.1365-2052.2011.02266.x

    View details for Web of Science ID 000306122200011

    View details for PubMedID 22497715

  • Can morphospace shed light on cave bear spatial-temporal variation? Population dynamics of Ursus spelaeus from Romualdova pecina and Vindija, (Croatia) JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL SCIENCE Seetah, T. K., Cardini, A., Miracle, P. T. 2012; 39 (2): 500-510
  • Archaeological Insights into the “Indentured Experience”: the case of Trianon Barracks Angage: explorations into the history, society and culture of indentured immigrants and their descendants in Mauritius. Calaon, D., Čaval, ., Morales-Matoes, J., Seetah, K. edited by Teelock, V. Aapravasi Ghat Trust Fund, Port Louis. 2012: 121–138
  • Combining stones and bones, defining form and function, inferring lives and roles Bones for Tools – Tools for Bones Gravina, B., Rabbett, R., Seetah, K. edited by Seetah, K., Gravina, B. University of Cambridge, Cambridge. 2012: 1–10
  • Bones for Tools – Tools for Bones McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research Monographs Series edited by Sheetah, K., Gravina, B. University of Cambridge, Cambridge. 2012
  • The juvenile cohort from Le Morne cemetery: a snapshot of early life and death after abolition. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology Appleby, J., Sheetah, K., Calaon, D., Caval, S., Janoo, A., Teelock, V. 2012

    View details for DOI 10.1002/oa.2259

  • The Mauritian Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Project: exploring the impact of colonialism and colonization in the Indian Ocean. Antiquity. Seetah, K., Balbo, A., Calaon, D., Čaval, S., Farr, H., Pluskowski, A., Appleby, J., Durand, C., Lightfoot, E., Morales, J., Moreno, E. 2011; 85: 330
  • Port Louis - Geofizikalna raziskava 2010 Arheologija v letu 2010; arheologija za javnost Mušič, B., Seetah, K., Mori, M., Medarič, I. 2011: 36-37
  • Potential Osteoarchaeological Evidence for Riding and the Military Use of Horses at Malbork Castle, Poland INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF OSTEOARCHAEOLOGY Pluskowski, A., Seetah, K., Maltby, M. 2010; 20 (3): 335-343

    View details for DOI 10.1002/oa.1048

    View details for Web of Science ID 000279031600007

  • Archaeological approaches to the cultural construction of islands. SHIMA, The International Journal for Island Cultures Dawson, H., Grima, R., Pluskowski, A., Seetah, K. 2010; 4 (1): 1-2
  • Excavations at the medieval fortress in Feldioara / Marienburg, 2007 Materiale Şi Cercetări Arheologice (serie nouă). Pluskowski, A., Ioniţă, A., Seetah, K. 2010; 6: 173-184
  • “Our Struggle”: colonial legacies on an island paradise SHIMA, The International Journal for Island Cultures Seetah, K. 2010; 4 (1): 99-112
  • Researching the everyday lives of Indentured Labourers: archaeological work at Trianon Barracks Newsletter: Aapravasi Ghat Trust Fund Seetah, K. 2010; 8: 11
  • Religion, legislation, and meat: the politics of food and its implications for the butchers of London Bestial Mirrors: Using Animals to Construct Human Identities in Medieval Europe. Vias Seetah, K. edited by Pluskowski, A. G., Kunst, G. K., Kucera, K., Bietak, M., Hein, I. Vienna. 2010: 110–115
  • Animal Bones from an Industrial Quarter at Malbork, Poland: Towards an Ecology of a Castle Built in Prussia by the Teutonic Order Crusades Maltyby, M., Pluskkowski, A., Seetah, K. 2009; 8: 191-213
  • Modern analogy, cultural theory and experimental replication: a merging point at the cutting edge of archaeology WORLD ARCHAEOLOGY Seetah, K. 2008; 40 (1): 135-150
  • The animal bones from Sacuidic Castle. Richerche nel Castello di Sacuidic (Forni di Sopra – Udine) Pluskowski, A., Seetah, K. edited by Gelichi, S., Piuzzi, F. All'Insegna del Giglio, Florence. 2008: 84–88
  • The animal bones from UTS 8a at Stari Bar, Montenegro A town through the ages. The 2006-2007 Project in Stari Bar Seetah, K. edited by Gelichi, S. All'Insegna del Giglio, Florence. 2008: 88–98
  • A zooarchaeological contribution to biological anthropology Proceeding of the 6th Annual BABAO Conference Seetah, K. edited by Robson-Brown, K., Roberts, A. Oxford. 2007: 72–80
  • The Middle Ages on the block: Animals, Guilds and meat in medieval Britain Breaking and Shaping Beastly Bodies: Animals as Material Culture in the Middle Ages Seetah, K. edited by Pliskowski, A. Oxbow, Oxford. 2007: 18–31
  • The animal bones from the 2004 excavations at Stari Bar, Montenegro Stari Bar. The Archaeology of a deserted town Seetah, K., Pluskowski, A. edited by Gelichi, S. All'Insegna del Giglio, Florence. 2006: 97–111
  • Rhythms of Life Archaeological Review of Cambridge (ARC) Seetah, K. 2006; 22 (1): 150-152
  • Multidisciplinary approach to Romano-British cattle butchery Integrating Zooarchaeology Seetah, K. edited by Maltby, M. Oxbow, Oxford. 2006: 111–118
  • Colonisation, Migration and Marginal Areas Archaeological Review of Cambridge (ARC) Seetah, K. 2005; 20 (1): 149-151
  • Butchery as a tool for understanding the changing views of animals Just Skin and Bones? New Perspectives on Human-Animal Relations in the Historic Past Seetah, K. edited by Pluskowki, A. Oxford. 2005: 1–8
  • Meat in history – the butchery trade in the Romano-British Period International Journal of Food History Seetah, K. 2004; 2 (2): 19-35
  • Field notes Archaeology Seetah, K. 2003; 56 (4): 72