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Permanent link (DOI): https://doi.org/10.7939/R39H16

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Microbial biodeterioration of human skeletal material from Tell Leilan, Syria (2900 – 1900 BCE) Open Access

Descriptions

Other title
Subject/Keyword
biodeterioration
scanning electron microscopy
biofilm
curation
histology
taphonomy
bone
Tell Leilan
Mesopotamia
Type of item
Thesis
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Pitre, Mindy Christina
Supervisor and department
Lovell, Nancy C. (Anthropology)
Examining committee member and department
Katzenberg, M. Anne (Archaeology)
Currah, Randy (Biological Sciences)
Beattie, Owen B. (Anthropology)
Le Blanc, Raymond J. (Anthropology)
Department
Department of Anthropology
Specialization

Date accepted
2011-01-25T18:09:39Z
Graduation date
2011-06
Degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Doctoral
Abstract
Human bone is considered one of the most direct and insightful sources of information on peoples of the past. As a result, curation protocols have been developed to ensure that the integrity of human skeletal collections is maintained. Although collections are generally considered safe when these protocols are followed, the results of this investigation show that the Tell Leilan skeletal collection from Syria (circa 2900 – 1900 BCE) was contaminated by microbial growth (also known as biodeterioration) during curation. This biodeterioration was evaluated by light microscopy (LM), by the application of a histological preservation index (HPI), and by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). All samples (n=192) were found to be biodeteriorated by LM and the HPI. SEM confirmed that the Tell Leilan skeletal material had been contaminated by a complex microbial aggregate known as a biofilm. Amycolatopsis sp. and Penicillium chrysogenum, along with species of Aspergillus, Chaetomium, and Cladosporium were isolated and cultured from several contaminated bones and were identified based on morphology and DNA sequences. The results of this research suggest that we must focus on new techniques to examine bone as well as on new conservation protocols designed to limit the growth of biofilms in human skeletal collections in the future.
Language
English
DOI
doi:10.7939/R39H16
Rights
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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File title: University of Alberta
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