Biomolecular Archaeology: New Insights from the Past


The field of biomolecular anthropology has been transformed in recent years by new technological and methodological approaches, including DNA, protein and small molecule characterization. At the Laboratories of Molecular Anthropology and Microbiome Research (LMAMR) at the University of Oklahoma, we have successfully expanded these approaches to study past populations, for example through the investigation of: 1) ancient animal use, translocations, and domestication, 2) human dietary adaptations, and 3) the co-evolution of humans and their microbes. Specifically, the resolution offered by some of these techniques permits testing a multitude of hypotheses with only small amounts of archaeological material, including those from traditionally underutilized sources, such as dental calculus. While these sample sources and methods have the potential to make substantial contributions to archaeology, fostering strong interdisciplinary collaborations with archaeologists, anthropologists, and other natural scientists is critical to advancing this field. Only by integrating the archaeological and cultural context with biomolecular data, can meaningful conclusions be derived. Together these datasets can address important anthropological questions about human health and evolution, human-environmental interactions, and broad scale cultural change.

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Biomolecular Archaeology: New Insights from the Past. Courtney Hofman, Brian M. Kemp, Cecil Lewis, Christina Warinner, Krithivasan Sankaranarayanan. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429729)

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Abstract Id(s): 17379