The impact of Art: investigating artifacts using ancient DNA to trace historic trade and exploitation of Atlantic walrus
In this project, we investigate a unique set of culturally important, historic walrus artifacts and ecofacts (ivory and from archaeological contexts) addressing several unresolved questions associated with the exploitation of this large marine mammal. We compare the genetic composition from a set of artifacts around Europe, identified and catalogued as part of the Northern Journeys project funded by the Leverhulme Trust and conducted by James Barrett of the University of Cambridge. We further use existing stable isotope data that reflect the environment and diet of the walruses in life. Together, these data allow making inferences regarding the source of traded tusk and bone.
Walrus rostrum (Photo by James Barrett)