Archaeology of the Invisible
Christina Warinner, PhD
Associate Professor of Anthropology, Harvard University
Group Leader of Microbiome Sciences,
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Humans have a deep and complex relationship with microbes, but until recently their history has remained largely inaccessible to us. Advances in genomic and proteomic technologies are opening up dramatic new opportunities in the field of archaeology, allowing us to investigate the invisible microbial communities that have long inhabited our human bodies and our food systems - both in sickness and in health. Beyond disease, microbes profoundly shape human health and behavior through their activity in the microbiome and their diverse roles in food and cuisine. From epidemic disease to alcoholic beverages, microbes are the invisible and often overlooked figures that have profoundly shaped human culture and influenced the course of human history. This lecture discusses how emerging research on ancient microbes is impacting how we investigate the human past and how we understand human and microbial cultures today.