About this Event
2 Broughton Dr., Raleigh, NC 27695
Please join the Department of English for a lecture by Matthew J. Collins, professor of biomolecluar archaeology at the University of Copenhagen and the McDonald Professor in Palaeoproteomics at Cambridge University. This lecture is open to the public.
From Matthew J. Collins:
A decade ago I had one of those lightbulb moments. Three years of researching into the management of livestock in Medieval Scotland had only served to remind us how rare were the intact jaw bones (which was the focus of the study) and how challenging it was then to recover DNA from old bones. Yet a few minutes walk across campus, and I was walking past shelves with thousands of mediaeval cattle(?) skins, which were dated and curated as the Records of the Diocese of York in the Borthwick Institute for Archives. I was not the first to realise the biological potential of parchment, Tim Stinson (NCSU) and Chris Howe (Cambridge) had both seen the genetic potential of parchment and before me. A decade later and what have we learnt, and where next do we go with the biological story of parchment? Protein analysis is helping to reveal more about production methods. This is not only useful to explore production practice in time and space but for providing another tool to examine palimpsests, while protein analysis of every bifolia in a codex, can often raise questions of scribal practice. Every element of DNA recovered from parchment is interesting, be this from livestock or the microbiome. Lipids are also now coming into focus and will aid in dating parchment, improving understanding of production and animal health.