Dr. Sara C. Bisel, 53, a noted Rochester physical anthropologist, died Sunday (Feb. 4, 1996) at Charter House in the skilled nursing unit. She had been ill several years.

Sara Louise Clark was born May 13, 1932, in Johnstown, Pa., and grew up in western Pennsylvania. She graduated from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh with a bachelor's degree in nutrition. On Oct. 30, 1954, she married Dr. Harry F. Bisel, a former Mayo Clinic consultant in medical oncology. The couple moved to Rochester in 1963.

Mrs. Bisel earned both a master's degree and Ph.D. in classical area studies, with specializations in Greek archaeology and physical anthropology. She was awarded a fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution in 1977 and conducted independent research with the sponsorship of both the Smithsonian and the National Geographic Society from 1981 to 1988. The author of numerous articles published in scholarly and professional journals, she taught at the University of Minnesota, the University of Maryland and the American School for Classical Studies in Athens, Greece. Although she worked at various sites throughout Greece, Turkey, Israel and Italy, she was best known for her work at Ercolano, Italy, which established her international reputation as an authority on ancient health and nutrition. This project was featured by the National Geographic Society in television programs, magazine articles and a video release. It also is the subject of her award-winning book for children, ``The Secrets of Vesuvisu,'' which was published in several languages.

Dr. Bisel was a member of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, Paleopathology Association, the Society for Ancient Medicine and Pharmacy, American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Archeological Institute of America, the Society of Woman Geographers and the National Geographic Explorer's Club, which honored her as an outstanding woman of science in 1988.

Survivors include a daughter, Jane F. Bisel of Rochester; two sons, Clark C. Bisel of Belmont, Calif., and Harold I. Bisel of Ligonier, Pa.; two grandchildren; and a brother, John I. Clark of Bridgeport, Conn. She was preceded in death by her husband.

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Private family interment of ashes will be at First Presbyterian Church.

There will be no visitation and no reviewal.

Memorials are suggested to the Mayo Foundatin, University of Minnesota Classics Department or the American Liver Foundation.

Vine Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.@et