Rhy McMillan

PhD Geological Sciences

MAGNET Trainee

EOS-Main 305

Are the bones and artifacts we find in their original context?

I aim to help archaeologists, palaeoanthropologists, and palaeontologists better describe and explain the spatial, temporal, and biological relationships within and between assemblages of exhumed bones, teeth, and artifacts. As a multidisciplinary researcher, I approach this through the lenses of taphonomy and geochemistry by focusing on the sedimentary context of excavated objects, their preservation states, their geochemical characteristics, and the degree to which they have been physically and chemically altered post-mortem. My objective is to further develop the application of geochemistry for acquiring information not obtainable with traditional archaeometric analyses and osteometry, facilitating the interpretation of the source, identity, and movement of humans and their artifacts through space and time.



PhD in Geological Science (Geochemistry), The University of British Columbia (2014-Present)
BA with Distinction, Anthropology/Earth Science, Vancouver Island University (2009-2013)




Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship - Doctoral Program (CGS D) | Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) | National Competition (May 2017)

Jerôme H. Remick Poster Award (Honourable Mention) | GAC-MAC 2017 Joint Annual Meeting (May 2017)

Four Year Doctoral Fellowship | University of British Columbia (August 2016)

Thomas and Marguerite MacKay Memorial Scholarship | University of British Columbia (2016)

Egil H Lorntzsen Scholarship | University of British Columbia (2016)

EOAS Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award | EOSC 222: Geological Time and Stratigraphy  | University of British Columbia  (2014-2015)


Research Affiliations and Assistantships


Research Assistant 

September 2014 - Present

Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research

Department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences

The University of British Columbia


Research Affiliate

October 2012 - Present

Centre archéologique de la Grotte Scladina

ASBL Andennaise

Sclayn, Andenne, Belgium 


Other Affiliations


Graduate Facilitator

September 2015 - Present

Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Technology

The University of British Columbia


Associate, Practitioner

April 2017 – Present

Centre for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL)

The University of British Columbia


Refereed Journal Articles

McMillan, R., Weis, D., Amini, M., Bonjean, D. 2017. Identifying the reworking and stratigraphic provenance of bones by exploring multivariate geochemical relationships with the 'Perio-spot' technique. Journal of Archaeological Science 88: 1-13.

Bonjean, D., Vanbrabant, Y., Abrams, G., Pirson, S., Burlet, C., Di Modica, K., Otte, M., Vander Auwera, J., Golitko, M., McMillan, R., Steemans, P., Goemaere, É. 2015. Nouvelles données sur un pigment noir d’origine cambrienne, utilisé au Paléolithique moyen et découvert dans la grotte Scladina (Andenne, BE). Notae Praehistoricae 35: 121-146.

Bonjean, D., Vanbrabant, Y., Abrams, G., Pirson, S., Burlet, C., Di Modica, K., Otte, M., Vander Auwera, J., Golitko, M., McMillan, R., Groemaere, E. 2015. A new Cambrian black pigment used during the late Middle Palaeolithic discovered at Scladina Cave (Andenne, Belgium). Journal of Archaeological Science 55: 253-265.

Non-refereed Book Chapters

Bonjean, D., Abrams, G., Delaunois, E., Di Modica, K., McMillan, R., Pirson, S., Roy, C. A., Toussaint, M. (2014) Taphonomy of the Juvenile Neandertal Remains from Sedimentary      Complex 4A, Scladina Cave. In: Toussaint, M., and Bonjean, D., editors. The Scladina 1-4A Juvenile Neandertal (Andenne, Belgium), Palaeoanthropology and Context. Études et Recherches Archéologiques de l’Université de Liège 134, 127-154.

Poster Presentations

McMillan, R., Weis., D., Amini, M., Bonjean, D. 2017. The identification of reworked sedimentary contexts and the stratigraphic provenance of bones: A novel quantitative method for Pleistocene archaeological and paleontological sites. GAC-MAC Joint Annual Meeting 40, May 14-17 2017 (Kingston, Ontario).

Snoeck, C. Schulting, R., Lee-Thorp, J., de Winter, N., Goderis, S., Mattielli, N., Pouncett, J., McMillan, R., Weis, D., Claeys, P. 2017. New developments for the study of cremated bone in archaeological contexts. UK Archaeological Science Conference 2017 (UKAS 2017).

McMillan, R., Cullon, D., Pratt, H. 2017. New Radiocarbon Dates and Methods for Elucidating the Extent and Timing of Use for Intertidal Fishing Features on the Northwest Coast. 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society of American Archaeology (Vancouver, BC).

Cullon, D., McMillan, R., Pratt, H. 2017. Archaeological Fish Traps on the Coast of British Columbia. 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society of American Archaeology (Vancouver, BC).

McMillan, R., Amini, M., Weis, D. 2016. Assessing Reworking and Stratigraphic Provenance of Bones from Scladina Cave, Belgium. Goldschmidt Conference (Yokohama, Japan) Abstracts: 2037.