Skip Navigation

Jessica Cerezo-Román

Skip Side Navigation

Jessica I. Cerezo-Román

Headshot of Jessica Cerezo-Román, Assistant Professor in the University of Oklahoma's Department of Anthropology

Assistant Professor
PhD, School of Anthropology, University of Arizona, 2014

Office: Dale Hall Tower 509

Research Interests

  • Bioarchaeology
  • Osteology
  • Human Remains
  • Cremations
  • Forensic Anthropology
  • Embodiment
  • Social Identity


My academic and professional trajectory has allowed me to study the human body and mortuary customs from fascinating ancient, historic and modern contexts, using cutting edge methodological and theoretical archaeological approaches. One such project explores changes in funerary rituals in the Sonoran Desert (Southern Arizona and Northern Sonora, Mexico), from A.D. 600 to 1450/1500 with the Hohokam and Trincheras archaeological groups. In this project, I theorize the body as both person and object to understand the special role of the corpse and the construction of memory in ancient societies. One of my technical strengths is my expertise with human remains, particularly highly burned and fragmented human remains, for reconstructing posthumous treatments of bodies to answer broader anthropological questions. I have worked with more than 2,600 inhumation and complex cremation burials from Prehispanic populations in Arizona, Northern Mexico, and Mesoamerica, Gallo-Roman and Medieval period burials in Belgium, Middle Gobi Bronze Age burials from Mongolia, Neolithic cremations from China, and Neo-Punic and Early Roman cremations from North Africa. For example, I currently am director of the bioarchaeological component of the El Palmar Archaeological Project, Campeche, Mexico, where I am analyzing Classic Period Mayan unburned human remains and mortuary materials to better understand the construction, display and legitimation of power manifest in the funerary practices and remains of subordinate elites (lakams). In addition, I am working at the Neo-Punic urban archaeological site of Zita, Tunisia, Northern Africa. In this project, I am the bioarchaeology PI and will be directing excavations and analyses of burials from a sacrificial tophet precinct that in magnitude finds parallel only at ancient Carthage. I am particularly looking at how burial practices, health and industrial pollution intersect with notions of sacrifice, offerings, health fragility and emerging personhood.
I also have continued interests in developing and testing methods used to analyze human remains. Throughout my experiences working with ancient to modern human remains, and formerly as a Forensic Anthropology Postdoctoral Fellow in the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner (PCOME)-Forensic Science Center, Tucson, Arizona, I developed methods to more accurately document human remains and I am an associate member of the Forensic Anthropology section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. I have worked on over 90 forensic anthropology cases (details upon request). I have extensive national and international museum experience after working at the Arizona State Museum (ASM), Tucson, for six years, and the Anthropology and Prehistory Section of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) Brussels, Belgium, for two years. I am also engaged in the broader context of how archaeological research influences contemporary descendant communities, repatriation and NAGPRA. I like teaching and training undergraduate and graduate students.

Recent Publications

Cerezo Román, Jessica I. (in press) Métodos morfoscópicos para analizar restos humanos quemados y cremaciones, Revista Noroeste de México, Nueva Época, 1(1).

Cerezo-Román, Jessica I. (in press) A Comparison of Mortuary Practices among the Tucson Basin Hohokam and Trincheras Traditions. American Antiquity.

Cerezo-Román, Jessica. 2020. Cremation Funeral Customs among the Classic Period Hohokam of the Tucson Basin. In Ancient Southwestern Mortuary Practices, edited by Watson, J. and G. Rakita. pp. 175-208. University Press of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado.

Cerezo-Román, Jessica I. and James T. Watson. 2020. Transformation by Fire: Changes in Funerary Customs from the Early Agricultural to Early Preclassic Period among Prehispanic Populations of Southern Arizona. American Antiquity 85(1): 132-151.

Cerezo-Román, Jessica I. 2020. Bodies among Fragments: Non-Normative Inhumations among the Preclassic and Classic Period Hohokam of the Tucson Basin. In The Odd, the Unusual, and the Strange: Bioarchaeological Explorations of Atypical Burials, edited by T. K. Betsinger, A. B. Scott and A. Tsaliki. pp. 18-43. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.

Cerezo-Román, Jessica I. and Bruce E. Anderson. 2019. Deconstructing Non-Carious Cervical Lesion on Teeth in Forensic Contexts. In Dental Wear in Evolutionary and Biocultural Contexts, edited by C. W. Schmidt and J. T. Watson. Elsevier, Philadelphia, PA.

Cerezo-Román, Jessica I., Silvia Nava I. Maldonado, Carlos Cruz Guzmán, Watson, James T., and Elisa Villalpando. 2018. Changes in Remembrance of a Cremation Urnfield Cemetery from Prehispanic Times to the Present at Cerro de Trincheras, Sonora, Mexico. Latin American Antiquity 29(1):185-190.

Hanut, Frédéric, Caroline Polet, Koen Deforce, Fabienne Pigière, Jessica I. Cerezo-Román, Véronique Hurt, Mircea Udrescu and Wim Van Neer. 2017. La Nécropole de Messancy (Province de Luxembourg, Belgique): Évolution d'un Grand Cimetière Trévire au Cours du Haut-Empire. In Du Bûcher à La Tombe. Diversité et Évolution des Pratiques Funéraires dans les Nécropoles à Crémation de la Période Galloromaine en Gaule Septentrionale, edited by Frédéric Hanut, pp. 279-304. vol. 36. Département du Patrimoine (SPW/DGO4), Namur.

Skoglund, Pontus, Alissa Mittnick, Kendra Sirak, Mateja Hajdinjak, Nadin Rohland, Swapan Mallick, Tasneem  Salie, Anja Heinze, Matthias Meyer, Alexander Peltzer, Matthew Ferry, Eadaoin Harney, Megan Michel, Kristin Stewardson, Jessica I. Cerezo-Román, Chrissy Chiumia, Alison Crowther, Elizabeth Gomani-Chindebvu, Richard Helm, Mark Horton, Alan Morris, John Parkington, Mary E. Prendergast, Raj Ramesar, Ceri Shipton, Jessica Thompson, Ruth Tibesasa, Vanessa Hayes, Svante Pääbo, Nick Patterson, Nicole Boivin, Ron Pinhasi, Johannes Krause and David Reich. 2017. Reconstructing Prehistoric African Population Structure. Cell 171, 59 -71.

Cerezo-Román, Jessica, Anna Wessman and Howard Williams (editors). 2017. Cremation and the Archaeology of Death. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Cerezo-Román, Jessica I., Koen Deforce, Denis Henrotay and Wim Van Neer. 2017. “From Life to Death: Dynamics of Personhood in Gallo-Roman Funeral Rituals, Arlon, Belgium. In Cremation and the Archaeology of Death, edited by Cerezo-Román, Jessica, Anna Wessman and Howard Williams. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 148-176.

Howard Williams, Cerezo-Román, Jessica, and Anna Wessman. 2017. Introduction: Archaeologies of Cremation. In Cremation and the Archaeology of Death, edited by Cerezo-Román, Jessica, Anna Wessman and Howard Williams. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 1-24.

McClelland, John and Jessica Cerezo-Román. 2016. Personhood and Re-embodiment in Osteological Practice. In Dealing with the Dead: Mortuary Archaeology and Contemporary Society, edited by Melanie Giles and Howard Williams. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 39-67.

Courses Taught

  • Health and Disease in Antiquity
  • Reconstructing Life from Skeleton
  • Bodies and Materiality
  • Forensic Anthropology
  • Human Osteology
  • Introduction to Biological Anthropology
  • ANTH 4953/6970 Bioarchaeology of Death and Ritual

Other Important Information


  • Board Director, Institute for Field Research (Fall 2018 to present)

Forensic Anthropology Consultation

  • Missing person/Cold case consultation, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Oklahoma City. Fall, 2018.
  • Forensic anthropologist expert witness defense deposition on homicide and child abuse.