NEXUS1492 study on ancient human microbiomes published in Nature Scientific Reports
An international team of researchers, involving members from the ERC Synergy project NEXUS 1492 based at the Leiden University, the Universities of Oklahoma, Copenhagen and York reveal challenges when studying ancient microbiomes in a recent issue of Scientific Reports. The paper, entitled Intrinsic challenges in ancient microbiome reconstruction using 16S rRNA gene amplification, refines analytical methods for ancient microbiome research. The study shows that targeted amplification, an approach generally used in research on microbiomes produces highly skewed data when used for ancient DNA. Instead, the researchers suggest shotgun metagenomics as an alternative approach to reconstruct ancient microbiomes.
Rebuilding after natural disasters: lessons from the pre-Columbian era
As tropical storm Erika forms, the Caribbean prepares itself for the yearly hurricane season. The islands in the region are plagued regularly by natural disasters: tropical storms are the norm. Often these storms develop into destructive hurricanes and sometimes the islands suffer from earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. After a devastating earthquake wreaked havoc in Haiti in 2010, international humanitarian aid formed a key part of the disaster response, providing the bare necessities: water, food, medical assistance and shelter. Rebuilding after natural disasters is a significant challenge for these communities. Now archaeologists are uncovering how early settlers adapted their shelters to the harsh conditions of the region.
Exhibiting the repatriation of archaeological heritage
San José, capital of Costa Rica, may not be the main tourist destination of this beautiful Central American country. Tourists normally spend a night or two at the city on their way to paradise-like beaches or national parks. Nonetheless, for the museum- or heritage-enthusiast, San José offers plenty of opportunity to explore the rich archaeological heritage of Central America and its Caribbean coastline.
Carib – A journey through cultural ceramics
The Hera Carib project studies how people lived in the Lesser Antilles. In this short video, our colleagues from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven talk about the life of cycle ceramics: what material they are made of, how and for what purpose they are made.
Indigenous Heritage: Teaching and Learning Didactics Experience in Valverde and Montecristi (Dominican Republic), August 2015
This August, the ERC-Synergy NEXUS 1492 Project and the “Museo Arqueológico Regional Altos de Chavón” have come together again to provide the school community of Valverde (13th and 14th) and Montecristi (19th and 20th) with the opportunity to participate in workshops on archaeological indigenous heritage, teaching and learning strategies for teachers of primary and secondary school levels.
Understanding Caribbean Jadeitite Exchange Networks pre- and post the arrival of Columbus
Ever since the first colonization of the Caribbean islands 6000 years ago, rocks or “lithics” as we call them were used to manufacture a wide range of objects. These ranged from special and likely highly valued objects like figurines, ritual items and jewellery to more utilitarian items like axes, hammerstones and other tools. Throughout pre-colonial times a high diversity of lithics were utilised within the Caribbean islands, which ranged from rocks formed in volcanoes or those laid down as sediments in ancient lakes and seas to metamorphic rocks that had been subjected to heat and pressure in the ancient past, such as the jadeitite in figure 1.
A site along the “Ruta de Colón” – El Flaco (Dominican Rep.) field-campaign 2015
From the 15th of May until the 15th of July 2015, a third fieldwork campaign takes place at the site El Flaco, located at the foot of the Cordillera Septentrional in the Valverde Region in the north-western Dominican Republic. An international group of more than 25 researchers, students, and local community members will spend the next two months excavating, analysing and processing data and materials.
Ancient DNA: a new frontier in Caribbean archaeology
Ancient DNA is like ice cream – it does not last well in the sun. Therefore, most ancient DNA studies to date have been conducted on samples from cold or temperate environments.
What does Kittitian heritage mean to you? Announcing culturesnaps.kn
After experiencing first-hand the diverse heritage and personal connections to different areas of St. Kitts, Habiba and I were left wondering if all this plethora of knowledge was going to be passed down to future generations? Through a lucky encounter, we were put in touch with Marlene Philips from the Department of Culture. The collaboration became evident. There was a need at the Department of Culture to build the local arts industries, as well as engage with communities on heritage and identity. Through this key partnership, we have worked for the past 9 months on developing and deploying a crowd sourcing website that we are extremely happy to announce is public: www.culturesnaps.kn.
You are what you eat
Isotopes have been used to trace the provenance of humans long before the Nexus1492 project came into being. The first archaeological application of strontium isotope analysis on human remains appeared during the mid-1980’s (Ericson 1985) and demonstrated the potential of isotope analyses as a tool to study the geographical origins of humans. Ever since, the archaeological studies employing isotope analysis have been multiplying. The forensic application of isotope analysis for human provenancing followed much later: see “The Adam case” (O’Reilly 2007), “The Scissors sisters case” (Meier-Augenstein and Fraser 2008), “The NN case” (Font et al. 2015). These studies use isotope analysis in bone, teeth and hair of unidentified deceased individuals in order to shed light on their geographical place of residence.