Proteomic characterisation of ancient Egyptian skin and bones

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


We were among the first to publish data concerning identification of proteins from 4200-year-old ancient Egyptian skin fragments, sampled from the collection of the Egyptian Museum in Turin [1]. Following on from this work, we are currently undertaking an analysis of ancient Egyptian skin and bone samples, as part of the University of Sydney interdisciplinary mummy project. Sample materials have been made available from the coffin and remains of Mer-Neith-it-es, a 26th dynasty (664-525 BCE) mummy excavated from Saqqara, Egypt. The remains are heavily fragmented, likely due to frequent incidences of grave robbing, and the transportation of the coffin by sea to Sydney in 1859.

One of the aims of our study was to develop a non-invasive technique for sampling ancient organic remains, using readily available equipment and materials. We set out to examine whether dermatology grade skin sampling strip tape could be successfully applied to the analysis of such materials. Successful development of a non-destructive sampling method would be a big step forward in bioarchaeological proteomics, because it would enable access to a much wider range of ancient materials housed in Museum collections.

Preliminary experiments have shown that we can identify intracellular protein components on the surface of skull fragments, which strongly suggests that they are indeed ancient remains rather than modern contamination. This presentation will include detailed results of proteomic analysis of skull and bone fragments using this novel non-destructive sampling approach.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event26th Annual Lorne Proteomics Symposium - Quarantine Station, Manly, Manly, Australia
Duration: 4 Feb 20215 Feb 2021


Conference26th Annual Lorne Proteomics Symposium
Abbreviated titleLorne Proteomics


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