Bone is one of the most often recovered biological materials at an
archaeological site. By studying the macroscopic, microscopic, and
chemical properties of bone, information can be gleaned about ancient
culture, demography, health, population movement, as well as the
environment in which past populations lived. Microbial growth, however,
can cause dramatic changes to the physical and chemical properties of
bone leading to difficulties in isolating intact collagen and DNA as
well as in obtaining unaltered trace element profiles, resulting in the
loss of valuable information about past peoples and their environments.
My research focuses on limiting microbial growth in archaeological bone
so that in the future the loss of valuable information concerning past
populations is minimised.
I have examined microbially-altered bone from Canada,
Egypt, Syria, Sudan, and the United States using light and scanning electron
microscopy, as well as microbial culture techniques and DNA sequencing. My research has led to the discovery of the first
evidence of biofilm growth in archaeological bone as well as in the
isolation of several contributing microorganisms (e.g., bacteria, fungi,
and actinomycetes). A portion of my research can be found in the Journal of Archaeological Science
. I continue to focus on new techniques to examine
microbially-altered archaeological bone as well as on new conservation
protocols designed to limit the growth of biofilms in archaeological
bone collections in the future.
For more examples of my work visit microscopy @ SLU