Ancient DNA (aDNA) refers to the preserved, but often highly degraded genetic material, recovered from remains found at paleontological and archaeological sites, in museums and other archival collections. This genetic material can be between less than 100 and up to hundreds of thousands of years old. Over the last decades, advances in high-throughput DNA sequencing technologies coupled with radiocarbon dating and isotopic analyses have revolutionized aDNA research, enabling the molecular investigation of ancient populations and tracing their changes through the time and space (evolution as it happens!).

In our lab, we apply state-of-the-art genomic and multi-isotope techniques to address a wide range of intriguing evolutionary and ecological questions pertaining to biology, palaeontology, anthropology, and archaeology. Our research interests are broad, spanning from the evolutionary history of extinct species or lineages with an emphasis on the Mediterranean region, to human evolution, domestication paleogenomics, conservation genomics (analyses on endangered species using both modern samples and historical museum specimens to aid conservation efforts), and assessing the microbial composition in sediments and ancient remains from humans as well as domestics and wild animals. In a complementary fashion, isotopic analysis of skeletal tissues offers unique insights into past population residential mobility and migration, paleodiet and the palaeoenvironment.

Our lab members deploy and develop specialized ancient DNA experimental isotopic and computational approaches to shed new light onto the past. Currently our research focuses on the following main topics:

  •  The study of the Second Greek Colonization in Greece, focusing on the genetic interaction between the migrating populations of the Metropolis with the local communities.

  •  The exploration of the genetic relationships among medieval and post-medieval individuals from the island of Crete and other mainland individuals of the same period.

  • The genetic profiling of individuals from diverse prehistoric archaeological Greek sites who appear culturally differentiated (e.g., Neolithic – Bronze Age populations).

  • The investigation of the Neolithic expansion across the Mediterranean around 8 millennia ago and the interaction between the Neolithic newcomers and pre-existing populations, by applying integrated ancient DNA and multi-isotope analyses of human and animal archaeological skeletal remains from Anatolia and Europe.

  • The analysis of ancient microbiomes and pathogens in order to identify causes of ancient epidemics, trace extinct microbial lineages and explore the evolutionary history of microorganisms relevant to public health.

  • The investigation of the evolutionary history of extinct mammals, such as the Cypriot pygmy hippopotamus or the Aegean elephantoids.

  • The molecular species identification of organisms found in sediments and residues (e.g., within amphorae) or from single specimens, such as human-made hard-tissue artifacts (e.g., elephant ivory). 

  • The study of the domestication process in Greece during the neolithization period, such as cattle.

  •  Museomics of endangered species of Greece.

Mission Statement

To disentangle evolutionary history using integrated ancient DNA (aDNA) and isotopic methods, with a focus on human archaeology, zooarchaeology, and paleontology in the Eastern Medittarenean. For this purpose, we apply and develop state of the art DNA analysis methods, multi-isotope approaches, data and computational methods, to investigate questions of population genetics and phylogeography.

COLLABORATIONS

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