Advances in the study of ancient biomolecules in archaeological dental calculus

Studies of ancient microbiomes can shed light on several aspects of human history and microbial evolution, as well as aid in understanding modern day diseases. During recent years, studies of archaeological dental calculus have gained much interest, as this calcified microbial biofilm preserves biomolecules over long periods of time, and can hold information about health, disease, diet, the human host, and occasionally even the living environment and occupational activities of an individual. However, continued advances in the research of dental calculus are essential, in order to make sure that this finite archaeological material is utilized in the best way possible. This thesis presents several such developments, beginning with a thorough review of formation and occurrence of archaeological dental calculus, as well as its past and current study, in order to set a basis for understanding the research into this topic. Thereafter, state-of-the-art archaeogenetic and palaeoproteomic methods are employed to advance the study of archaeological dental calculus at different stages in the research process, from project design and laboratory processing, to analysis and result interpretation. Taken together, the four manuscripts presented in the thesis push forward the development of the field of biomolecular research of archaeological dental calculus. They provide researchers with valuable information for study design and result interpretation, as well as introduce new types of analyses into the field.


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