Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SCRIBE (Reading the genetic history of parchment manuscripts.)
Reporting period: 2017-10-01 to 2019-09-30
The SCRIBE project is at the forefront of this exciting field of biocodicology, having developed a DNA sampling technique, derived from routine parchment conservation practice. SCRIBE has implemented this method to generate two novel high throughput genomic datasets from parchment documents and manuscripts. Firstly the materiality of manuscripts has been investigated by assessing the genetics of the animals used for parchment production. Secondly SCRIBE has combine high throughput metagenomic techniques and novel bioinformatic approaches to a large sample size of documents in multiple storage environments to look at the microbial fingerprints of parchments. The understanding of the use history and conservation status of these documents is vital to the long term preservation of the important textual information they contain.
Firstly, an analysis of the genomes of the animals used in parchment production has been undertaken and their relationship to modern animal populations assessed. This data is not only providing insights into the choices of animals made by medieval parchment makers, but also excitingly describing how these animals relate to the domestic animal breeds we see today.
Secondly, SCRIBE has also implemented metagenomic analysis pipelines to allow for the study of the DNA of microbes from the surface of the documents. This has allowed for insights into the documents conservation status and SCRIBE is feeding this new found knowledge back to the documents conservators.
The SCRIBE projects results have been disseminated through conference talks, scientific publications and outreach events for the general public.