CALS biochemist will play a role in new archaeological excavation of Troy

When a cross-disciplinary UW-Madison team begins excavating ancient Troy next year, a CALS faculty member will be a part of it. Mike Sussman, biochemistry professor and director of the UW Biotechnology Center, has been tapped to lead the expedition’s molecular archaeology efforts.

In this role, Sussman will head up a small team of Biotech Center scientists that will use modern scientific tools to analyze DNA and protein from the bones, pottery, seeds and other specimens found at the site. These techniques are expected to reveal new information about what life was like for Trojans.

As the UW-Madison news release announcing the expedition explains, “new methods to examine chemical residues on pottery from ancient kitchens and banquet halls, for example, may reveal secrets of ancient Trojan culinary proclivities, and genomic analyses of human and animal remains may shed light on diseases and afflictions at a crossroads of civilization.”

Sussman is excited to be a part of the endeavor. “We are starting a whole new thing here,” he says, “both in terms of research and education for undergraduates and graduates, [but also] combining classics and DNA and chemistry.”