ossamenta: A flock of sheep from a medieval manuscript (Sheep)
[personal profile] ossamenta
I am going to the EAA! Train tickets have been bought, and I'm hoping to find accommodation via Airb'n'b (hostels are not bad, but there is always a risk of loud drunk people in the middle of the night). And once payday has come, I'll register for the conference. Travel and accomodation are definitely prioritized as they are more time crucial when you want to get the cheaper options.

I went to Matthew Collins' talk on his work on Medieval parchment and DNA at the University's Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art (RLAHA) last Tuesday, and it made me so enthusiastic about all the cool things you can find out through research. Sometimes work is a bit repetitive and it's good to take the time to digest the new research that is happening. His (and his colleagues') work is really interesting. Since parchment is essentially dried skin it contains DNA, much better preserved than that in leather objects found on archaeological digs. And by using a rubber you can extract bits of DNA - no need to actually destroy parts of the parchment, just send in the scraps to the laboratory - and see what animal the parchment was made of, what sex it was, and potentially track breeds through time. He also said that if you could digitize manuscripts to such high resolution that you could see the hair follicles you could potentially see if it came from a young or adult animals (much smaller distance between follicles in young animals). Unfortunately most manuscript digitizations are not done to such high resolution, as researchers have been focussing on the actual text and images on the pages. There are probably hundreds of thousands of Medieval manuscripts and legal documents in UK archives, not to mention what's out there in the rest of Europe (and in museums/archives in the rest of the world). Such a massive source!
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ossamenta

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