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Kerstin Lidén

About me

My research career has been characterised by inter- and cross-disciplinary research, rooted in my background in both biology and archaeology. Above all, I am an innovator, having initiated and introduced both new methods and new fields of research [e.g. 1, 4, 5, 6], a mentor, demonstrated by the training and advancement of young researchers, and a strategist, as shown in my engagement in the policy for research, my being appointed Head of Dept for more than a decade, and my successful attraction of major grants, in total >13,000,000 Euro from different international and national funding agencies.

My wide network and extensive collaboration with international colleagues bear witness to my capacity as a research leader. I have published c. 140 publications, demonstrating my wide scientific expertise and interest, in e.g. Nature, Science, Oecologia, J Arch Sci, Int J Osteoarch, Archaeometry, Antiquity, Biology Letters, Fornvännen, PLoS ONE, Mol Ecol, BMC, Anthropozoologica, Gen Sel Evol, Sci Rep, Arch Korrespondenzblatt, Phil Trans Roy Soc B, Antropologia, Ecol and Evol, Quat Int, Anthrop Anz, Mol Ecol Res, Int J Palaeopath, J Am Chem Soc, and Proc Roy Soc B.

My Google Scholar h-index=31 (i10-index=54), citations n=4260, and my Web of Science 2001-2020 h-index=18, avg citations/publ=19.29, total publ=59, sum of times cited=1138 (without self-citations 927), citing articles: 959 (without self-citations 927) (some publications are missing from the Web of Science and Google Scholar, for a full List of Publications, please see CV.

My vision of sound leadership is to act, but not necessarily to be seen. During the past decade, I have been a successful leader by co-operatively working to create four strategic research platforms (I–IV), enabling young researchers to develop their own research interests to become excellent and independent researchers. These platforms have worked as stepping stones for young scholars/students joining my laboratory.


  1. Application of new methods: My research interest has led me to introduce and develop new methods and applications of stable isotope analysis in archaeology, as well as in ecology. Working with one of the pioneers in the field, Prof. Erle Nelson at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, I introduced stable isotope analysis in Swedish archaeology. Together with my PhD students, I subsequently developed and refined the application, with regard to the impact of different collagen extraction methods on amino acids and bulk isotope values of collagen, the effect of presence of lipids, the importance of including local, contemporary faunal reference materials in the interpretation of human diets, the use of different skeletal elements from a single individual to study life-history changes, the importance of identifying the diet in areas with multiple carbon reservoirs to achieve high-resolution radiocarbon dates [5], refining what tissues to use in stable isotope analysis, developing a method to use deciduous teeth to trace prehistoric breastfeeding duration and weaning at the individual level [1, 3], achieving higher resolution by analysing individual amino acids, i.e. compound[1]specific isotope analyses, the incorporation of additional isotopes: sulphur, strontium and oxygen isotopes in our studies, such as 87Sr/86Sr analysis using TIMS and LA-ICP-MS to get both bulk values and sequential data from our samples [6, 7]. Together with my first PhD student Götherström, I introduced aDNA analysis on archaeological materials in Sweden and we applied this to address e.g. the Neanderthal’s relation to anatomically modern humans, the introduction of farming in Scandinavia, the occurrence of lactase persistence, the relocation of animals [e.g. 4] and the study of pathological microbes. Götherström is now full professor and one of two directors of the Center for Palaeogenetics at SU.
  2. Environmental Science: My interest in climate and the environment led me to introduce Environmental Humanities at SU together with colleagues in Environmental Social Science and Environmental Law. We developed a transdisciplinary concept attracting international postdoctoral fellows from different disciplines within the Humanities, Social sciences and Law, many of which are now fully-fledged researchers with new positions. My interest was also expressed in organising a session on the then emerging field of environmental humanities, at the International Association of Landscape Archaeology Conference in Uppsala 2015, resulting in an edited book. Recently, I introduced Glacier Archaeology in Sweden, with regular surveys being conducted along melting snow patches and glaciers in Swedish Sápmi, in close collaboration with the local county museums as well as the local Sámi villages in the areas we survey. The fact that we are now in the Anthropocene prompted a much longer time perspective on human impact on our environment, which led me to realise the prospects of using the Baltic Sea as a prehistoric timeline experiment for how humans interacted with a changing environment, be it induced by a changing climate, overhunting of marine resources or other human impacts. I therefore initiated several projects on climatic and environmental impact on human populations and marine mammals living in and around the Baltic Sea. One of these was given to, and headed by, the then postdoctoral fellow Glykou [6, 8], who later developed the idea into an application for an ERC Consolidator Grant. My interest in marine mammals is also evidenced in my participation in a Marie Curie ITN where two of the ESRs worked on marine mammals [10].
  3. Promoting young scholars and students: Since 2001 I have successfully led 21 PhD students to completion, of which14 are still active in academia, some extremely successful professors, heading their own Lidén Part B1 CrisConClimate 14 laboratories. My genuine interest in promoting young students and scholars has led me to engage as a co[1]applicant in two Marie Curie ITNs, LeCHE (PI Götherström) and ArchSci2020 (PI Collins), in which I successfully led four PhD students to double PhD degrees, with one pending, due to maternal leave. These international programmes have been inspiring to all participants, not only to the PhD students, but also an inspiration to my department, to my faculty and also to other university departments worldwide. Not only because the programmes were successful, but also since we unanimously decided to share our previous successful proposals with those interested. I was also member of the scientific advisory board for another Marie Curie ITN, Forging identities. In my ambition to promote young students I also took part in the restructuring of SU Research School In The Humanities in 2015. I find it more rewarding to promote young scholars than to put myself in the lead seat, thus I am more often found as last author than first, although I am usually the initiator of the project, the project designer (though not as frequently doing the actual labwork), taking part in the analysis, interpretation and instrumental in writing the articles, as well as in funding.
  4. Policy for research: The Young Academy of Sweden (SUA) was initiated by, the then secretary general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, prof Öquist. I was involved from the very beginning, visiting the then three existing young academies in Europe, involved in selecting the members as well as hiring their first staff secretary. It is now an independent academy with high status and a major influence on Swedish policy for research. During several years, I was part of the Royal Swedish Academy’s working group for policy for research, engaging with national politicians, particularly prior to elections, but also promoting issues concerning research and education and at the same time publishing several articles in different Swedish newspapers. We also organised and participated in conferences on policy for research at the Academy. Subsequently, I became a board member in RiFO (Members of the Swedish Parliament and Researchers) during 2007–2017, as vice chair during the last year. RiFO engages in how research can be better used in politicians’ decision making. My interest in policy for research also resulted in me being member of Science Europe’s Scientific Committee for the Humanities, nominated by the Swedish Research Council. I was member of the Arts and Humanities panel from its start in 2013, until it merged with Social Sciences in 2017. During this period, we produced two opinion papers: Radical innovation: Humanities research crossing knowledge boundaries and fostering deep change, and The Human Factor in the 2014–2015 Work Programme of the Horizon 2020 Societal Challenges.


[1] Howcroft, R., Eriksson, G. & Lidén, K. 2012. Conformity in diversity? Isotopic

investigations of infant feeding practices in two Iron Age populations

from southern Öland, Sweden. American Journal of Physical

Anthropology 149:217–230.

[2] Eriksson, G., Papmehl-Dufay, L. & Lidén, K. 2013 Cultural interaction and change

- a multi-isotopic approach to the Neolithization in coastal areas. World

Archaeology 45(3):430–446.

[3] Howcroft, R., Eriksson, G. & Lidén, K. 2014 Infant feeding practices at the Pitted

Ware Culture site of Ajvide, Gotland. Journal of Anthropological

Archaeology 34:42-53.

[4] Ahlgren, H., Norén, K., Angerbjörn, A. & Lidén, K. 2016. Multiple prehistoric

introductions of the mountain hare (Lepus timidus) on a remote island,

as revealed by ancient DNA. Journal of Biogeography 43:1786-1796.

[5] Dury, J.R., Eriksson, G., Fjellström, M., Wallerström, T., & Lidén, K: 2018.

Consideration of freshwater and multiple marine reservoir effects: dating

of individuals with mixed diets from northern Sweden. Radiocarbon


[6] Glykou, A., Eriksson, G., Storå, J., Schmitt, M., Koojiman, E., & Lidén, K. 2018.

Intra‐ and inter‐ tooth variation in strontium isotope ratios from

prehistoric seals by laser ablation multi‐ collector inductively coupled

plasma mass spectrometry. Rapid Communications in Mass

Spectrometry 32:1215–1224.

[7] Pokutta, D. A., Borodovskiy, A. P., Oleszczak, L., Tóth, P., & Lidén, K. 2019

Mobility of nomads in Central Asia: Chronology and 87Sr/86Sr isotope

evidence from the Pazyryk barrows of Northern Altai, Russia Journal of

Archaeological Science: Reports 27:101897.

[8] Glykou, A., Lõugas, L., Piličiauskienė, G., Schmölcke, U., Eriksson, G., Lidén, K.

2021. Reconstructing the ecological history of the extinct harp seal

population of the Baltic Sea. Quaternary Science Reviews 251:106701.

[9] Fjellström, M., Lindgren, Å., Lopez-Costas, O., Eriksson, G., Lidén, K. 2021. Food,

mobility, and health in a 17th and 18th Century arctic mining population

in Silbojokk, Swedish Sápmi. Arctic 74(2):113-238.

[10] Ahlgren, H., Bro-Jørgensen, M.H., Glykou, A., Schmölcke, U., Angerbjörn, A.,

Olsen, M.T., Lidén, K. 2022 (in press). The Baltic grey seal: A 9000-

year history of presence and absence. The Holocene. DOI:


Research projects


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • A Room with a View

    Andreas Viberg (et al.).

    Archaeological investigations and clear aerial photographs have identified the presence of house foundations within several ring forts on the island of Öland, situated east of the Swedish mainland. One of them, Sandbyborg, was selected for further investigations by means of a ground-penetrating radar (GRP) and magnetometry survey. The purpose of the geophysical survey was to establish the fort’s spatial layout, to identify any internal constructions within the houses and to investigate whether the fort had multiple building phases. Targeted archaeological excavations was subsequently carried out to verify the validity of the geophysical results and to recover datable material that would enable the understanding of how Sandbyborg was chronologically related to the other ringforts of the island. This information could then be used to better understand the function of Sandbyborg. The results of the geophysical survey clearly show the presence of 36 or 37 stone foundations for houses situated radially aroundthe wall of the fort as well as 16 or 17 similar house foundations in a central building group. The geophysical results also provided information on the possible location of hearths, kilns and pits within the fort and also confirm the location of a third gate situated in the north-western part of the fort. The spatial layout and inner size of Sandbyborg is very similar to one of the other Migration Period ring forts on Öland, Eketorp II. However, there is no evidence of multiple building phases in the data from Sandbyborg. The subsequent excavations showed a very good correlation with the geophysical data. Datable finds, a 14C date from a human metatarsal found in one of the trenches and the lack of geophysical evidence of multiple building phases indicate that the ringfort was used for a limited period of time during thelate fourth century AD. Given the available evidence it is suggested that Sandbyborg primarily was used for military purposes or as a place of refuge intimes of unrest as its location in the outfields, far from arable lands, contradicts an interpretation of Sandbyborg as a fortified village, but as the evidence about the ringforts on Öland is restricted a continued use of geophysical prospection and excavations within the other forts is suggested as a means of obtaining a deeper understanding of the purpose and context of these highly interesting structures.

    Read more about A Room with a View
  • Archaeological Prospection of a High Altitude Neolithic Site in the Arctic Mountain Tundra Region of Northern Sweden

    Andreas Viberg, Annika Berntsson, Kerstin Lidén. Journal of Archaeological Science


    The project Arctic Sweden initiated during the International Polar Year (2007-2008) was aimed at investigating aspects of the natural and cultural environment in this area. During the summer of 2008 archaeological excavations and geophysical prospection surveys were carried out in the mountain tundra region of north-western Sweden. The investigations focused on locating settlement remains connected with a Middle Neolithic tool production site discovered by archaeologists in 2001. Magnetic susceptibility surveys using the MS2D system by Bartington Instruments and an EM38 by Geonics measuring the Inphase component of the electromagnetic field were used for the prospection of measureable traces of anthropogenic activity and structures such as hearths and middens within the estimated settlement area. Soil samples for phosphate analysis were also collected and analysed using a field analysis method developed by Merck. The magnetic susceptibility measurements successfully located a waste heap containing fire-cracked stones and refuse from a seasonal settlement. The results of the survey were confirmed by subsequent archaeological excavations, which also revealed a piece of resin with the imprint of a human tooth. One additional piece of resin dated the site to 3340 to 3100 BC. The soil phosphate analysis showed slightly increased values over the central part of the site and over the heap of fire-cracked stones, suggesting the applicability of the method to a mountain tundra environment. Comparison between the MS2D and EM38 measurements revealed a weak impact of the bedrock on the results, indicating a potential for the applicability of magnetic surveys to this specific type of environment. Future geophysical archaeological prospection in the Swedish mountain tundra region could benefit from a combined approach using high-resolution magnetometry and magnetic susceptibility measurements.

    Read more about Archaeological Prospection of a High Altitude Neolithic Site in the Arctic Mountain Tundra Region of Northern Sweden

Show all publications by Kerstin Lidén at Stockholm University