This project aims at reconstructing the ancestry and oral disease of Palaeolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age anatomically modern humans from Central-Southern Italy, using genome-wide profiling and mass spectrometry-based proteomic analysis of skeletal remains and mineralised dental plaque (archaeological dental calculus). In Europe, the transition from hunter-gatherer to agricultural communities (Neolithisation) and the Bronze Age migration into Central Europe from the Asian steppe were the most important demographic events since the initial peopling by anatomically modern humans. However, until now, no Palaeolithic and only a few of Neolithic and Bronze age individuals from South Europe have been characterised for genomic analysis. As a consequence, the genetic base of outstanding peopling and migratory processes in prehistoric Europe, such as: (a) the East-West population structure among European hunter-gatherers, and (b) the Neolithic Southern European horizon known as the Cardial culture, still need to be fully understood. Similarly, metagenomic analysis of Palaeolithic and Neolithic dental calculus has been limited to preliminary screening of a limited number of samples, with no associated metaproteomic analysis. What taxonomic groups and metabolic functions were lost or gained with Neolithisation? How this affected oral heath? The genomic characterisation of Palaeolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age humans from Southern Europe will be integrated with a metagenomic and metaproteomic analysis of dental calculus to produce the richest possible personal “-omics” profiling so far achievable for ancient humans. The two main research objectives are: 1. Integrate Palaeolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age human genomic data from Central-Southern Italy within the genomic landscape available for all ancient and present-day West Eurasians, and 2. Reconstruct the oral microbiome, and its metabolic interactions with the host, before and after Neolithisation.
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