“Archaeology of the Invisible"
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Christina Warinner, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Harvard University; Sally Starling Seaver Assistant Professor, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study; University Professor, Friedrich Schiller University.
This seminar is cosponsored by the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
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Christina Warinner, PhD is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Harvard University; Sally Starling Seaver Assistant Professor at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study; and University Professor at Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany. Dr. Warinner earned her PhD in Anthropology from Harvard University in 2010 and completed her postdoctoral training at the Centre for Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Zürich, Switzerland. She subsequently cofounded the Laboratories of Molecular Anthropology and Microbiome Research at the University of Oklahoma in 2014. In 2016 she became a Group Leader of Microbiome Sciences at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, and since 2019 she is also an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Harvard University. She conducts laboratory-based research in the field of archaeological science, and her research focuses on the study of ancient DNA and proteins to better understand past human diet, health, and the evolution of the human microbiome. In addition to her research, she is actively engaged in public outreach and created the Adventures in Archaeological Science coloring book, now available in thirty languages, including many indigenous and underrepresented languages.
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.