Proteomic characterisation of Ancient Egyptian skin, bones and textiles

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference abstract


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, bone and textile 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.
We will present results of proteomic analysis of samples from two different types of textiles found with the remains, one of which contains finer strands than the other, which may be indicative of different source materials. 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 nondestructive 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 nondestructive sampling approach.

[1] Jones J. et al. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society part A. 2016 Oct 28;374(2079).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication18th Human Proteome Organization World Congress
PublisherHuman Proteome Organisation (HUPO)
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventHuman Proteome Organisation World Congress (18th: 2019) - Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 15 Sept 201919 Sept 2019


ConferenceHuman Proteome Organisation World Congress (18th: 2019)
Abbreviated titleHUPO 2019


  • bioarchaeology
  • proteomics


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