Birch bark tar has been used as adhesive as far back as the Middle Pleistocene but was commonly used by Holocene (Mesolithic) hunter-gatherers. Small lumps of this substance have been recovered from several Mesolithic archaeological sites in Europe and while their use is still debated, they often show tooth imprints, suggesting that they were chewed. Recent studies, have demonstrated that it is possible to recover ancient human and non-human (microbial and faunal) aDNA from these objects. The genomic information trapped in the resin offers a rare snapshot of people's lives, providing information on genetic ancestry, phenotype, and even diet. In addition, the microbial DNA preserved in the resin provides new information on the composition of their oral microbiome and the evolution of specific oral pathogens. Resin is also found on stone tools and other artefacts where it was used for hafting and we hypothesize that it is possible to recover ancient DNA from this material, thereby linking the tool with the tool-maker. This will provide a direct link between material culture and the people who produced it, their identity, and gender composition. You will carry out experiments at the YEAR Centre and work closely with the other ChemArch project ESR13. You will be seconded to Delft University of Technology to learn in-situ microscopic methods of identifying, recording and sampling hafting adhesives in the group of Dr. Geeske Langejans, and you will work in close collaboration with projects ESR10 and ESR14.
PhD starting October 2021 and recruiting now.
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