Recently, the TUBA team has been investigating how best to analyse soil at Vindolanda. This is very important- I mean, it IS what makes up the site. And so, Helga and myself have been trialling ICP-MS and XRF. But before any of that, we donned our chef hats and got to cooking, though by cooking, we were heating up soil to remove the moisture and determine how much organic matter is lost after heating.
Doesn’t sound so tasty, I know. But look at the lovely array of brown, like looking at a student’s first attempt at a dinner party! Continue reading “Starting to See What the Soil Says”→
This week, I had the utmost pleasure of going to the ‘8th Bone Diagenesis Meeting’ conference. Founded by Robert Hedges in Oxford in 1988, the Bone Diagenesis Meeting has been held every four years across Europe and Africa, with the eighth meeting back in (temporarily) sunny Oxford. Pop the kettle on and put your feet up, because today I’m going to share my experience there with you!
As the summer rolls on and it seems to go quicker every year, it gives me time to spend some time outside the lab. I need proof that I do indeed spend sometime outside, as currently, the PhD students do not think I venture out into the field so here are some pictures to prove that I can do more than laboratory work!
In a boat last month – disguised by a silly hat!
ok so this one is a little older.. but I am getting my feet wet!
The research team have a broad remit of understanding bone diagenesis and decomposition, mostly this relates to archaeology, but also to forensic and biomedical applications. check out our sister site of https://blogs.tees.ac.uk/tuhumbugs/, This summer so far has meant learning new techniques, setting up microcosms in the laboratory, developing methods in the laboratory, catching up current research and more importantly writing.. watch this space.
For myself the laboratory is really where I am at home, since working in the Biomedical Mass Spectrometry Unit, Newcastle University, my passion has always been the development of new methods, especially towards the measurement of amino acids and organic compounds. I spent three fantastic years in Leipzig, Germany at http://www.eva.mpg.de/evolution/index.html where I worked with one of the first LC-IRMS instruments. Since coming to Teesside University, I have built up a research team that investigates bone diagenesis, decomposition and amino acid metabolism for a range of applications. Our department has a strong forensic and biomedical focus and thus the instruments I work with are also applied to drug analysis. The unique opportunity to work on material at Vindolanda, Northumberland has allowed the research team to grow and use our expertise to aid the understanding of preservation mechanisms in waterlogged environments and importantly provide knowledge as to how to preserve and manage these important World Heritage Sites.
As the summer ends and the new term starts we will be bringing you a snapshot of what research we are doing, where we are presenting, what we are publishing and all the great stuff that our research team does.. we may also post some pictures of our holidays!
Graduation week is always a special occasion in the academic calendar, one of my personal highlights towards this goal occurs in the final year as the science research project – students building confidence through development of laboratory skills and engaging with academic literature. One of the main research areas is decomposition, understanding bone diagenesis and factors which impact on this.
This year one of the Forensic Science students studying the decomposition of blood was Lucy Fox. Lucy investigated the chemical changed that occur in blood once it has been deposited on a surface, comparing different types of animal blood, such as dog, horse and sheep. Understanding the chemical changes in blood is important to aid investigations in biomedical science and forensic science.
The best part in this report was the comment ‘I loved being in the labs and particularly the chemistry side of the course.’ if only we could convert everyone to the love of decomposition chemistry..
I’m Rhys, member and admin of TUBA, though I am often referred to as “the bone man” among TUBA members, readers, and other research groups. I have been a graduate tutor at Teesside University for six months. During this time, I have been teaching bone labs, writing articles, and researching and designing experiments for my PhD on the processes of diagenesis and preservation in bone. For more information on me, check out the ‘Meet the Team‘ page For my first blog post, I’m going to share a little of these with you today. Keep tuned for more!
My name is Hrafnhildur Helga, but I am known as Helga outside of my home in Iceland. I have been a PhD student at Teesside University in Northeast England for just around three months now and as such form one part of the TUBA team. My research is still in its early stages, but focuses on the leather shoes and burial environment of Roman Vindolanda. For more information on me, please check out the ‘meet the team‘ section of this website. As part of my research, I am excited to introduce my first blog post of (hopefully) many, about a research trip I took last week to learn about leather manufacturing first hand.
The impressive shoe collection at Vindolanda has been featured in an article by The Chronicle. Over 7,000 shoes so far have been excavated from Vindolanda, including indoor, outdoor, military, decorative, and child footwear. Despite this huge number, little is known about them and the residents of Vindolanda.
TUBA is currently investigating which animals were used to make the leather shoes, and whether they were sourced locally or imported. This will help to explain more of the history of Vindolanda and Roman Britain.
A very interesting read- follow this link or click the photo for more information!
Welcome to the Teesside University Bioarchaeology (TUBA) blog
Bioarchaeology is the study of human remains and associated artefacts in the archeological context. TUBA is a unique group in archaeology by having members across a range of disciplines, including chemistry, microbiology, anthropology, archaeology, and ecology, among several others.
TUBA is currently researching the chemical and biological processes of diagenesis and preservation at Vindolanda, the infamous Roman military fort and World Heritage site located along Hadrian’s Wall. This will improve the management of unique environments and artefacts.
We look forward to showing you our experiments, findings, and updating you on other research that the team will be doing. Thank you for your visit!
This image shows the adherence of vivianite on wood recovered at Vindolanda.
Untreated wood normally degrades whilst buried due to rot and bacterial attack. The conditions at Vindolanda preserve wood exceptionally well. Vindolanda is known particularly well for its preservation of wooden tablets with handwritten correspondence. These adherence of vivianite into the wooden tablets seem to have helped preserve them over millennia of burial. TUBA is researching how vivianite adheres to wood, and how wood degrades at Vindolanda.
This image shows part of the excavations currently underway at Vindolanda.
Vindolanda is a Roman military fort and World Heritage site settlement located along Hadrian’s Wall, the furthest North that the Romans ventured. Vindolanda is a World Heritage site known for its excellent preservation of materials that degrade quickly at other sites. Vindolanda houses an impressive leather shoe collection, and wooden tablets containing some of the oldest handwritten letters in the UK. These are preserved so well because of the environmental conditions at Vindolanda. TUBA is investigating these conditions and why material is preserved so well, to then apply these processes to other forensic and archaeological investigations.