Markku Niskanen


Research interests

My interests cover a fairly large range: in addition to biological anthropology, archaeology and cultural anthropology, I’m also interested in zoology. Since 2007, my main research object has been the biological anthropology of Europeans from the middle of the last ice age until the present. I’m particularly interested in the effect of environmental (such as the climate) and cultural (methods of obtaining one’s livelihood, technology, etc.) changes on human biology. International research cooperation has provided a huge amount of information about the bone morphology of Europeans in the past 40,000 years.

In terms of animals, I’m particularly interested in the assessment of size and physical activity level based on bone dimensions and morphology, as well as the effects of domestication and breeding. As an equine enthusiast who also owns a horse, I’m naturally also interested in horses.

My research is multidisciplinary: I utilise modern imaging methods and molecular research (DNA studies and stable isotope determination) in addition to morphological studies in close cooperation with representatives of the fields of biology and biomedicine.


Active research projects

  • University of Oulu RAE-2013 funding for bioarchaeology research group (BARC). Principal investigator M. Niskanen.


Previous research projects

  • The Body Size, Body Shape and Skeletal Robusticity of Post-Pleistocene Europeans. Research project grant, Academy of Finland, 2009-2012. Vastuullinen tutkija M. Niskanen.
  • On the Verge of Modernity: Post-Pleistocene Evolution of the European Skeleton. Research project grant, National Science Foundation, 2007-2011. A collaborative project together with Christopher Ruff (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine).



  • Niinimäki, S., Söderling, S., Junno, J.-A., Finnilä, M. & Niskanen, M. (2013). Cortical bone thickness can adapt locally to muscular loading and age. HOMO – Journal of Comparative Human Biology 64:474-490.
  • Niskanen, M., Maijanen, H., McCarthy, D. & Junno, J.-A. (2013). The application of the anatomical method to estimate the maximum adult stature and the age at death stature. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 152:96-106.
  • Junno, J.-A., Paananen, M., Karppinen, J., Tammelin, T., Niinimäki, J., Lammentausta, E., Niskanen, M., Nieminen, M.T., Järvelin, M.R., Takatalo, J. & Tuukkanen, J. (2013). Influence of physical activity on the vertebral strength during late adolescence. The Spine Journal 13:184-189.
  • Niinimäki, S., Niskanen, M., Niinimäki, J., Nieminen, M., Tuukkanen, J. & Junno, J.-A. (2013). Modeling skeletal traits and functions of the upper body: Comparing archaeological and anthropological material. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 32:347-351.
  • Pachón, L.P., Niinimäki, S., Junno, J.-A., Niskanen, M., Niinimäki, J. & Nuñez, M. (2012). The relationship between the observed body mass and the dimensions of femoral head – A hip MRI case study. Revista Española de Anthropología Física 33:1-6.
  • Ruff, C., Holt, B., Niskanen, M., Sládek, V., Berner, M., Garofalo, E., Garvin, H., Hora, M., Maijanen, H., Niinimäki, S., Salo, K., Schuplerova, E. & Tompkins, D. (2012). Stature and body mass estimation from skeletal remains in the European Holocene. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 148:601-617.
  • Junno, J.-A., Niinimäki, S., Niskanen, M. Nuñez, M. & Tuukkanen, J. (2012). Cross sectional properties of the radial tuberocity. Homo – International Journal of Human Biology 62:459-465.
  • Junno, J.-A., Paananen, M., Karppinen, J., Tammelin, T., Niinimäki, J., Niskanen, M., Nieminen, M., Kamula, K., Kaakkinen, M., Tervonen, O. & Tuukkanen, J. (2011). Influence of physical activity on vertebral size. Osteoporosis International 22:371-372.
  • Väre, T., Niinimäki, S., Junno, J-A., Niinimäki, J., Niskanen, M. & Núñez, M. (2011). Computed Tomography in Aid of Osteoarcheology – a Case Study of Mummified Remains of Vicar Nikolaus Rungius. Fennoscandia Archaeologica 28: 85-88.
  • Niinimäki, S., Niskanen, M., Chamberlain, A. & Junno, J.-A. (2010). Osteological analysis of a medieval shaman burial from Kuusamo in North-Eastern Finland. Fennoscandia Archaeologica 27 97-100.
  • Maijanen, H. & Niskanen, M. (2010). New regression equations for stature estimation for medieval Scandinavians. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 20:472-480.
  • Niskanen, M. & Junno, J.-A. (2009). The estimation of African apes’ body size from postcranial dimensions. Primates 50:211-220.
  • Junno, J.-A., Niskanen, M., Nieminen, M.T., Maijanen, H., Niinimäki, J., Bloigu, R. & Tuukkanen, J. (2009). Temporal trends in vertebral size and shape from medieval to modern-day. PLoSONE 4:e4836:1-5.
  • Puputti, A.-K. & Niskanen, M. (2009). Identification of semi-domesticated reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) and wild forest reindeer (R. t. fennicus) from postcranial skeletal measurements with the aid of discriminant analysis. Mammalian Biology 74:49-58.
  • Niskanen, M. (2009). Saami and their origins in light of physical anthropology. T. Äikäs (ed.): MÁTTUT-MÁDDAGAT, The Roots of Saami Ethnicities, Societies and Spaces / Places, pp. 20-29. Sastamala: Vammalan Kirjapaino Oy.
  • Niskanen, M. (2009). A shift in animal species used for food from the Early Iron Age to the Roman Period. B. Försen (ed.): Thesprotia Expedition I, Papers and Monographs of the Finnish Institute at Athens XV, pp. 145-154. Helsinki.
  • Puputti, A.-K. & Niskanen, M. (2008). The estimation of weight of reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) from skeletal measurements: preliminary analysis and application to archaeological material from 17th and 18th century northern Finland. Environmental Archaeology 13:151-161.
  • Niskanen, M. & Junno, J.-A. (2006). The reconstruction of body size and shape of the Paleolithic period Europeans. V.-P. Herva (ed.): People, Material Culture and Environment in the North, pp. 310-320. Oulu: Gummerus.
  • Niskanen, M. (2006). Stature of the Merovingian-period inhabitants from Levänluhta, Finland. Fennoscandia Archaeologica 23:24-36.
  • Maijanen, H. & Niskanen, M. (2006). Testing stature-estimation methods on medieval inhabitants of Westerhus, Sweden. Fennoscandia Archaeologica 32:37-46.
  • Pettitt, P. & Niskanen, M. (2005). Neanderthals in Susiluola, Finland, during the Last Interglacial period? Fennoscandia Archaeologica 22:79-87.
  • Ruff, C.B., Niskanen, M., Junno, J.-A. & Jamison, P. (2005). Body mass prediction from stature and bi-iliac breadth in two high latitude populations, with applications to earlier high latitude populations. Journal of Human Evolution 48:381-392.
  • Niskanen, M. (2002). The origin of the Baltic-Finns from the physical anthropological point of view. Mankind Quarterly 43:121-153.
  • Jarva, E., Niskanen, M. & Paavola, K. (2001). Anatomy of a Late Iron Age Inhumation Burial of Hiukka at Nivankylä (Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland). Fennoscandia Archaeologica 17:27-49.
  • Niskanen, M. (1999). Origin of Anatomically Modern Human Face through Differential Rates of Tooth Size and Facial Size Reduction. J. D. Mayhall and T. Heikkinen (eds.): Dental Morphology 1998, pp. 222-227. Oulu: University of Oulu.

Last updated: 21.9.2017