This is a pilot project to study the DNA from the skeletal remains of lower-class Romans dating to the Imperial period. Some DNA analysis has been done in ancient Italy, but it hasn't yet been explored as a method for understanding the geographic origins of immigrants to Rome. In particular, the combination of DNA with results I obtained from isotope analyses (Sr/O/C/N/Pb) in my dissertation research will be a powerful way of investigating the life histories of groups under-represented in history, particularly slaves, immigrants, women, and children.
Skeletal analysis of ancient Romans is quite a new research area, and ancient DNA analysis can be expensive. With the launch of the Roman DNA Project comes the launch of a crowd-sourced funding effort as part of the #SciFund Challenge. I am seeking donors who share my vision of rewriting Roman history using modern technology.
I'd appreciate it if you'd head over to RocketHub to make a contribution to the Roman DNA project. A donation of just $10 gets you access to the project's exclusive blog and Twitter feeds, and donors who choose to contribute more get postcards of Roman skulls, photographs of sectioned teeth, or their name listed in the eventual publication. Let's get started studying some Roman DNA!