Department of Ancient History

Dr Jana Jones

Dr Jana JonesResearch Fellow

BA, MA, PhD Macquarie University

Office: W6A 526
Telephone: (02) 9850 1819


Jana Jones is a Macquarie University Research Fellow (2014 to 2017) in the Department of Ancient History. Her current research project is entitled 'Secrets of the Ancient Egyptian embalmers: an archaeological, historical and scientific investigation of the origins and development of mummification'.


Since 2000 Dr Jones has worked on international excavations in Egypt as a contracted textile specialist for the Australian Centre for Egyptology (ACE) (Helwan), the German Archaeological Institute Cairo (DAIK) (Abydos and Elephantine), the British Museum Hierakonpolis Expedition (Hierakonpolis), the French Institute for Oriental Archaeology (IFAO) (Adaïma) and the North Kharga Oasis Survey. In 2012 she was appointed Director of the ACE Helwan project for that season.

Among the techniques she uses in the field is microscopic analysis to determine technological changes in textile production. While conducting these analyses, she discovered that, contrary to current beliefs, embalming substances had been used in burials as early as the Late Neolithic period (c. 4100 BC). Biochemical investigation of these substances with archaeological chemist Dr Stephen Buckley (University of York, UK) identified mixtures of anti-bacterial agents, including resins.

She has 'excavated' ancient Egyptian textiles and studied mummies and funerary artefacts in international museums: the Egyptian Museum and the Dokki Agricultural Museum in Cairo; the Bolton and Petrie Museums in the United Kingdom; Musée du Louvre in Paris, the Macquarie University Museum of Ancient Cultures and the Nicholson Museum at University of Sydney.


Since 2007 Dr Jones has held casual teaching appointments in the Department of Ancient History, Macquarie University and has convened units in Egyptian archaeology in which she lectured, tutored and marked (AHIS170 and AHIS280/AHPG860).


Radio and television

Radio National. The Body Sphere, with Amanda Smith, Saturday 9 July 2016. ('The Mummy Returns'). Program on mummification, forensic investigations and current research into early developments.

Publication of the interdisciplinary, international humanities and sciences collaboration in August 2014 on the breakthrough discovery that the practice of mummification may have begun some 1500 years earlier than previously thought (J. Jones et al., 'Evidence for Prehistoric Origins of Egyptian Mummification in Late Neolithic Burials', published online 14 August 2014 in PLOS ONE), generated significant worldwide media coverage.
On August 14 and 15 2014, Dr Jones gave nine ABC radio interviews and appeared on ABC News 24. She also gave email interviews to Reuters Washington, El Mundo, Die Welt, Der Spiegel, Focus Science Magazine (Poland), El Pais (Cairo), ABC News in Science, Archaeology World and Science Recorder, where an 'exclusive' interview is available behind a paywall.

Dr Jones gave radio interviews on her early findings challenging theories on how mummification began: Rachael Cohen's 'The Arc', ABC Radio National 576 AM, 20 March 2005; ABC 666 Canberra, 15 August 2001; Sally Loane Morning Show, ABC Radio National 702 14 August 2001 and ABC 1223 Newcastle, 14 August 2001. In 2005 she was invited to take part in a Discovery Channel International documentary, 'Ancient Clues: Abydos' in which her ground-breaking scientific investigation of wrappings from the tombs of the first kings of Egypt (First Dynasty, c. 3000BC) was featured prominently.  

Print and online reports (selection)

National Geographic Feb. 18 2016. 'See the World's Oldest Dress'. Interview on radiocarbon dating of the world's oldest woven garment, the Tarkhan pleated dress.

In Australia, coverage of the breakthrough discovery on early mummification appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald and Launceston Examiner (also syndicated across Fairfax online), Herald Sun and Courier Mail (and syndicated across NewsCorp online).

Internationally, the story was picked up by hundreds of outlets including The Guardian, Nature News, Discovery News, I F****** Love Science, Smithsonian Magazine, New Scientist, Live Science, NBC News, Reuters, Haaretz, The Telegraph, and many more, with much engagement and commentary on social media such as a Facebook post from Archaeology News. The research has been voted among the top breakthrough discoveries of 2014 by Discover and Archaeology (USA) magazines.     

'Unwrapping the working class mummies'. Macquarie University News, August 2001, 4-5; 'Egyptologie: momification de la classe ouvrière'. BestOz, Bulletin of the French Embassy in Australia, Department of Science and Technology, November 2001; 'The Leica MZ6 sheds light on 5,600 year old mummies'. Unity, October 2001, Leica Microsystems (Wetzlar, Germany), 35; 'Ägyptische Arbeiter haben Mumifizierung erfunden'. Bild der Wissenshaft online Newsticker, August 2001; 'Ordinary Egyptians made mummies first'. ABC News in Science, August 2001 s341722.htm



  • Köhler, E. C. and Jones, J., Helwan II. The Early Dynastic and Old Kingdom Relief Slabs. Studien zur Archäologie und Geschichte Altägyptens (SAGA) Vol. 25. (Marie Leidorf: Rahden, Westf.,  2009). ISBN 978-3-86757-971-1

Book Chapters

  • Jones, J., 'Textile bindings at Hierakonpolis', in: S. Zakrzewski, J. Rowland and A. Shortland (eds), Science in the Study of Ancient Egypt. (Routledge, Taylor and Francis: New York, in press 2015), 189-191. ISBN 978-0-415-88574-4 (hbk); ISBN 978-1-315-67869-6 (ebk). Accepted July 2010.
  • Jones, J., 'The Textiles', in: S. Ikram and C. Rossi (eds), The North Kharga Oasis Survey I. With contributions by A. Clapham, A. Dunsmore, A. Gascoigne, M. Gaubert, T. Herbich, J. Jones, R. Knisely-Marpole, G. Cruz-Uribe, N. Warner. (American Univ. Press, Cairo: in press, 2014). Accepted December 2010.
  • Jones, J., 'Some observations on the dimensions of textiles in the Old Kingdom linen lists', in: A. Woods, A. McFarlane, S. Binder (eds), Egyptian Culture and Society: Studies in Honour of Naguib Kanawati. (Supreme Council of Antiquities: Cairo, 2010) 247-262. ISBN 978-977-479-854-6
  • Jones, J., 'The "linen list" in Early Dynastic and Old Kingdom Egypt: text and textile reconciled', in: M-L. B. Nosch, C. Michel (eds), Textile Terminology in the 3rd and 2nd Millennia BC. (Oxbow: Oxford, 2010) 81-109.  ISBN 978-1-84217-975-8
  • Jones, J. and Killen, G., 'New evidence of jar storage and stabilisation techniques found in the spoil heaps associated with the tomb of Den', in: E. M. Engel, V. Müller, U. Hartung (eds), Zeichen aus dem Sand. Streiflichter aus Ägyptens Geschichte zu Ehren von Günter Dreyer. (Harrassowitz: Wiesbaden, 2008) 283-293. ISBN 978-3-447-05816-2
  • Jones, J., Unruh, J., Knaller, R., Skals, I., Raeder-Knudsen, L., Jordan-Fahrbach, E., Mumford, L., 'Guidelines for the excavation of archaeological textiles', in: C. Gillis and M-L. B. Nosch (eds), Ancient Textiles. Production, Craft and Society. (Oxbow: Oxford, 2007) 245-253.  ISBN 978-1-84217-202-5
  • Jones, J., Unruh, J., Knaller, R., Skals, I., Raeder-Knudsen, L., Jordan-Fahrbach, E., Mumford, L., 'Guidelines for the excavation of archaeological textiles', in: C. Gillis and M-L. B. Nosch (eds), First Aid for the Excavation of Archaeological Textiles. (Oxbow: Oxford, 2007) 5-21.  ISBN 978-1-84217-223-0
  • Jones, J., 'The Shroud of T-ny: a textile analysis', in: K. Sowada and B. Ockinga (eds), Egyptian Art in the Nicholson Museum, Sydney. (Mediterranean Archaeology: University of Sydney, 2006) 135-145. ISBN 0-9580265-1-3

Journal Articles

  • Jones, J., Mirzaei, M., Ravishankar, P., Xavier, D., Lim, D.S., Shin, D.H., Bianucci, R., Haynes, P.A., 'Identification of proteins from 4200 year old skin and muscle tissue biopsies from ancient Egyptian mummies of the first intermediate period shows evidence of acute inflammation and severe immune response' Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A  20150373 (in press, Sept. 2016).
  • Jones, J., 'The enigma of the pleated dress: New insights from Early Dynastic Helwan reliefs', JEA 100 (2014), 211-233. ISSN 0307-5133.
  • Jones, J., Higham, T.F.G., Oldfield, R., O'Connor, T.P., Buckley, S.A., 'Evidence for Prehistoric Origins of Egyptian Mummification in Late Neolithic Burials', PLOS ONE. Published: 14 August 2014
    DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0103608
  • Jones J., 'Pillow Talk', Nekhen News 18 (2006) 24.   
  • Jones, J. and Oldfield, R., 'Egypt's earliest linen', Egyptian Archaeology (EA) 29 (2006) 33-35. ISSN 0962-2837
  • Jones, J., 'The textiles', in: G. Dreyer et al., Stadt und Tempel von Elephantine: 31./32. Grabungsbericht, Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archaölogischen Instituts Abteilung Kairo (MDAIK) 61 (2005) 128-132; pls 17-18. ISBN 3-8053-2979-2; ISSN 0342-1279
  • Oldfield, R. and Jones, J., 'What was the elephant wearing?' Nekhen News 15 (2003) 12.   
  • Jones, J., 'The textiles from Abydos: new evidence', Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archaölogischen Instituts Abteilung Kairo (MDAIK) 58 (2002) 323-340; pls 33-35. ISBN 3-8053-2979-2; ISSN 0342-1279
  • Jones, J., 'Towards mummification: new evidence for early developments', Egyptian Archaeology 21 (2002) 5-7. ISSN 0962-2837 
  • Jones, J., 'Funerary textiles of the rich and poor', Nekhen News 14, (2002) 13.
  • Jones, J., 'Predynastic textiles in Egypt: A reassessment', Archaeological Textiles Newsletter (ATN) 34 (2002) 2-8; figs 1-5. ISSN 0169-7331
  • Friedman, R., Watrall, E., Jones, J., Fahmy, A. G., Van Neer, W., Linseele, V., 'Excavations at Hierakonpolis', Archéo-Nil 12 (2002) 55-68. ISSN 1161-0492
  • Jones, J., 'Bound for eternity: an examination of the textile wrappings in the Predynastic cemetery', Nekhen News 13 (2001) 13-14; pl. 18.
  • Jones, J. and Oldfield, R., 'Something new from something old', Nekhen News 13 (2001) 14.
  • Jones, J., 'Textiles from the Pan Grave cemetery', Sudan and Nubia 5 (2001) 38-39; fig. 10; pls 23, 24. ISSN 1369-5770

Refereed Conference Papers

  • Jones, J. et al., 'Towards mummification. Evidence for prehistoric origins in Badarian and Predynastic burials'. 11th International Congress of Egyptologists (ICE XI), 23-30 August 2015. Florence, Italy.   
  • Jones, J. et al., 'The prehistoric 'mummy' from Turin's Egyptian Museum: preliminary scientific investigations' (poster presentation). 11th International Congress of Egyptologists (ICE XI), 23-30 August 2015. Florence, Italy.   
  • Jones, J., 'Pre- and Early Dynastic Textiles. Technology, specialisation and administration during the process of State formation', in: B. Midant-Reynes and Y. Tristant, (eds) with the collaboration of Joanne Rowland & Stan Hendrickx. Egypt at its Origins 2. Proceedings of the International Conference "Origin of the State. Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt", Toulouse, 5th to 8th September 2005. (Peeters: Leuven, 2008) 99-132. ISBN 978-90-429-1994-5
  • Jones, J., 'New perspectives on the development of mummification and funerary practices during the Pre- and Early Dynastic Periods', in: J-C. Goyon, C. Cardin, J-F. Garrel, G. Zaki, (eds), Actes du IXe Congrès International des Égyptologues. 6-12 Septembre 2004, Grenoble-France. (Peeters: Leuven, 2007) 2.1, 979-989. ISBN 978-90-429-1717-0
  •   Jones, J. and Oldfield, R., 'Textiles', contribution in: R.F. Friedman, 'Elephants at Hierakonpolis', in: S. Hendrickx, R. F. Friedman, K. M. Cialowicz, M. Chlodnicki, (eds), Proceedings of the International Conference "Origin of the State, Predynastic and Early  Dynastic Egypt", Krakow, 28 August-1st September 2002. (Peeters: Leuven, 2004) 145-149, figs 10-12. ISBN 904-29-1469-6

Book review  

  • Jones, J., Review: A History of Ancient Egypt: From the First Farmers to the Great Pyramid (Allen Lane, 2012) by J. Romer, Journal of the American Association of Oriental Studies (JAOS) 134 757-759. ISSN 0073-5892.

Encyclopedia article

  • Jones, J., 'Textiles, Pharaonic Egypt', in: R. S. Bagnall, K. Brodersen, C. B. R. Champion, A. Erskine, S. Huebner (eds), Encyclopedia of Ancient History Vols 1-13. (Wiley-Blackwell: Oxford, 2013). Published online 26 October 2012. Accepted without revision 1 April 2010.

Published conference abstract

  • Jones, J. 'The Memphite linen lists: text and textile reconciled', in: L. Evans (ed.), Ancient Memphis: 'Enduring is the Perfection'. Proceedings of the International Conference held at Macquarie University, Sydney on August 14-15, 2008. (Peeters: Leuven, 2012) 3-4. ISBN 978-90-429-2546-5

Fieldwork reports

  • Jones, J., 'Textiles of 3rd, 2nd and 1st Millennia BC', in: Raue, D. et al., Report on the 35th season of German excavations and restoration on the island of Elephantine. Annales du Service des Antiquités de l'Égypte, Vol. 82 (The Supreme Council of Antiquities: Cairo, 2008), 218-221.
  • Jones, J., 'Les tissus', Rapport de la 16ème mission archéologique sur le site prédynastique d'Adaïma (2004). (Institut français d'archéologie orientale, Le Caire; Ministère des Affaires étrangères, Paris; Centre d'anthropologie: Toulouse, 2004) 21-24; 34-35.

Chapters in edited book

  • Jones, J., 'Mummification'; 'Osiris: A New God is Born'; 'The Osirian Cult in Abydos'; 'The Coffin Texts'; 'Funerary Customs'; 'A Model for the Afterlife', in: B. Bolliger, S. Forbes, M. Halbmeyer, J. Parker, M. Wall (eds), Egypt, the Land and Lives of the Pharaohs Revealed. (Global Book Publishers: Sydney, 2005) 41; 236-245. ISBN 1-7412-850-7

Conference Papers

  • 'The 'linen list' in Early Dynastic and Old Kingdom Egypt: text and textile reconciled'. International Exploratory Seminar, Textile Terminology in the 3rd and 2nd Millennia BC, 5-8 March 2009. Centre for Textile Research, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • 'The Early Dynastic Memphite 'linen lists': text and textile reconciled'. Memphis in the First Two Millennia, 14-15 August 2008. Macquarie University, Sydney.
  • 'Pre- and Early Dynastic textiles: technology, specialisation and administration during the process of state formation'. Origin of the State. Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt", 5-8 September 2005. Toulouse, France.
  • 'Identification of archaeological fibres'. 14-18 September 2005. University of Copenhagen, Denmark, invited speaker at the official opening of the Centre for Textile Research (CTR).
  • 'Towards mummification: new evidence for early developments in ancient Egypt'. 5th World Congress on Mummy Studies, 2-5 September 2004. Turin, Italy.
  • 'New perspectives on the development of mummification and funerary practices during the Pre- and Early Dynastic period'. 9th International Congress of Egyptologists, 6-12 September 2004. Grenoble, France.
  • 'Recent research on ancient Egyptian Predynastic textiles', J. Jones, A. Thomas, R. Oldfield, (presented by A. Thomas). Early Textiles Study Group Conference, 10-12 September 2004. Manchester, U.K.
  • 'Application of microscopy to archaeological textiles. New insights into the development of mummification in ancient Egypt'. Ancient Textiles Conference, 19-23 March 2003. Lund, Sweden, and Copenhagen, Denmark.

Public Lectures

  • 'Under wraps. Textiles in mummification'. The Australian Centre for Egyptology Annual Conference, Macquarie University, 4 August 2007.
  • 'From glad rags to Gladwrap: 1,001 uses for textiles in ancient Egypt'. Australian Centre for Egyptology/Rundle Foundation Annual Dinner, 15 September 2007.
  • 'Bound for eternity'. The Australian Museum, Sydney, 3 March 2005. One of a series of public lectures to coincide with the exhibition 'Life Beyond the Tomb: Death in Ancient Egypt', 11 December 2004 to 22 May 2005.