State of the Field 2019

The Ancient DNA Revolution in Archaeology

Friday, February 22 – Saturday, February 23, 2019

Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World
Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island

Ancient DNA has revolutionized archaeology and our understanding of human prehistory. Its insights have revealed hominins unknown from the fossil record, clarified global human migrations, and transformed how we understand plant and animal domestication processes. Despite these discoveries, many questions remain about how to interpret ancient DNA results and how to study the relationships between genes and culture:

  • How can we ensure that genetic results are interpreted within appropriate archaeological and anthropological frameworks?
  • How can we incorporate innovative paleogenetic methods into archaeological fieldwork and research design?
  • What are the ethical considerations of working with samples from archaeological contexts?

As laboratory and analytical methods continue to improve, the ancient DNA revolution is poised to expand even further within archaeology. At this time of innovation and possibility it is critical to assess the current trajectory and future of the discipline: the State of the Field.

Brown University’s Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World will host a conference titled State of the Field 2019: The Ancient DNA Revolution in Archaeology on February 22-23, 2019. Our gathering builds on a tradition of “State of the Field” workshops hosted by the Joukowsky Institute to reflect upon trends in archaeological research. This year’s conference aims to address the many issues surrounding the development and uses of ancient DNA methods around the world and to promote discussion between archaeologists, anthropologists, and geneticists in order to examine new opportunities and challenges for ancient DNA research in archaeology.

Conference Schedule

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22
Rhode Island Hall, Room 108

4:00 – 4:15pm Opening Remarks by Peter Van Dommelen (Brown University) and Katherine Brunson (Brown University)

4:15 – 4:30pm Elizabeth Matisoo Smith (University of Otago)

4:30 – 4:45pm Logan Kistler (Smithsonian Institution)

4:45 – 5:00pm Christina Warinner (Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and the University of Oklahoma)

5:00 – 5:45pm Discussion

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23
Rhode Island Hall, Room 108

Session 1 “Human DNA Part 1: Interpreting Human Ancient DNA”

9:00 – 9:10am Welcome by Katherine Brunson (Brown University)

9:10 – 9:30am David Reich (Harvard University)
Title tbd

9:30 – 9:50am Swapan Mallick (Harvard University)
Subtleties in Analysis of Ancient DNA Data

9:50 – 10:10am Stephanie Eisenmann (Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History)
Reconciling Material Cultures in Archaeology with Genetic Data: How to Name the Clusters that Emerge from Archaogenomic Analysis?

10:10 – 10:40am Discussion

10:40 – 11:00am Coffee Break

Session 2 “Human DNA Part 2: Case Studies in Human Ancient DNA”

11:00 – 11:20am Iain Mathieson (University of Pennsylvania)
Natural Selection in Prehistoric Europe

11:20 – 11:40am Marcela Sandoval-Velasco (Natural History Museum of Denmark)
Genomic Origins and Diversity of Afro-descendants in Colonial Mexico City

11:40am – 12:00pm Discussion

12:00 – 1:00pm Lunch Break

1:00 – 1:30pm Poster Session

Session 3 “Alternative and Non-Human Sources of Ancient DNA”

1:30 – 1:50pm Victoria Mullin (Trinity College Dublin)
The Origins of Taurine Cattle: An Ancient Nuclear Genome Approach

1:50 – 2:10pm Anna Linderholm (Texas A&M University)
Tracking the Younger Dryas Mass Extinctions using aDNA from Cave Sediments

2:10 – 2:30pm Marsha Wibowo (Harvard University)
Ancient DNA from Paleofeces in the US Southwest

2:30 – 3:00pm Discussion

3:00 – 3:20pm Coffee Break

Session #4 “Ethics in Ancient DNA Research”

3:20 – 3:40pm Mary Prendergast (Saint Louis University)
Beyond “Boots on the Ground:” Moving Towards Ethical Analysis and Publication

3:40 – 4:00pm Deborah Bolnick (University of Connecticut)
Ethical Dimensions of Ancient DNA Research in North America

4:00 – 4:20pm Discussion

4:20 – 4:30pm Coffee Break

4:30 – 5:30pm Closing Remarks and Final Group Discussion

See our Call for Papers

This workshop is free and open to the public.
No preregistration is required.

For questions, contact joukowsky_institute@brown.edu.