Eleanor Joan Green

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

York, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9999

Approve Date

August 26, 2020

Project Title

Green, Eleanor (York, U. of) "Reconstructing the relationship between ancient microbiomes, urbanisation and diet: A bioarchaeological investigation of coprolites"

Human evolution and adaptation has been influenced by various different species, including domesticated plants and animals and microbial pathogens. Recent evidence demonstrates the human microbiome (the collective organisms living in and on our bodies) significantly impacts our health, wellbeing and behaviour, indicating that our microbial communities influence human evolution and biology. How have our microbes evolved with us? To what extent has diet, living conditions and geography impacted our ancestral ecologies? Analysis of biomolecules preserved within archaeological faeces, otherwise known as coprolites, allow us to access the state of ancestral gut microbiomes at specific timepoints. Thereby addressing fundamental questions surrounding the symbiotic relationship of humans and our microbes. Coprolites excavated from Anglo-Scandinavian contexts in York, UK, will be the main focus of this investigation. I will conduct genetic and proteomic analyses of the coprolites to provide specific evidence of the ancestral microbiome in an urbanised but pre-industrialised context – a key population which has so far been excluded from global ancient gut microbiome projects. Direct evidence of the largest number of pre-industrial European gut microbiomes to date, will provide a new perspective on how these microorganisms have traced our history and how they differ from those which we harbour today.