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The aim of the Ancient Parasites Laboratory is to investigate how parasites have infected humans throughout evolution, and determine the impact of the change from hunter gatherer lifestyle, to early settled farmers, to complex civilisations, and industrialisation.

We use digital light microscopy and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to detect helminth eggs and protozoal cysts in past faecal material such as latrine sediment, coprolites, and the pelvic sediment from burials.

Current collaborations include archaeological teams and ancient DNA specialists from across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and North America.

Using these techniques, we can detect the change in parasite species that infect humans over time, how prevalence varied in different populations, and when new species of parasite became introduced into different regions of the world.

Ancient Parasites Laboratory

Director: Prof Matthew Collins

Technician: Jo Osborne