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Department of Archaeology



Dr Sarah Fiddyment received her BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Zaragoza (Spain) in 2006, having completed three years of medical school and two years specialization in Biochemistry.

Her MSc and subsequent PhD (awarded in 2011) were both completed at the same university, working in the field of proteomics in cardiovascular research.

She moved to the University of York in 2012 after being awarded a Marie Curie postdoctoral research fellowship to focus on the protein analysis of parchments throughout history. During this time she developed a non-invasive sampling technique that has allowed her unprecedented access to thousands of parchment documents, helping to establish the emerging field of biocodicology. She was subsequently awarded a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow continuing her biomolecular analysis of parchment through history.

In 2019 Sarah joined the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research as a research associate as part of the ERC funded Beasts to Craft project.


My research interests focus on the possibility of using ancient biomolecules retrieved from manuscripts and early printed books and documents as a biomolecular record providing information about livestock economies, book production, craft techniques and quality.

The corpus of parchment documents housed around the world represents one of the major cultural assets of European heritage. The documents have multiple biographies: of the animal itself, the parcheminerie where the skin was prepared, the scriptorium where the parchment was written, the microbial legacy accumulated through its manufacture and use and finally those of the text and the codex.  Research has tended to focus on the latter lines of evidence, but my research attempts to explore the potential of parchment records as untapped biomolecular reservoirs.

Key Publications

Key publications: 

Sarah Fiddyment, Matthew D. Teasdale, Jiří Vnouček, Élodie Lévêque, Annelise Binois & Matthew J. Collins. 2019. “So you want to do biocodicology? A field guide to the biological analysis of parchment.“ Heritage Science 1 (7):35.

Calà, Elisa, Angelo Agostino, Gaia Fenoglio, Valerio Capra, Franca Porticelli, Francesca Manzari, Sarah Fiddyment, and Maurizio Aceto. 2019. “The Messale Rosselli: Scientific Investigation on an Outstanding 14th Century Illuminated Manuscript from Avignon.” Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 23: 721–30.

Hendy, Jessica, Christina Warinner, Abigail Bouwman, Matthew J. Collins, Sarah Fiddyment, Roman Fischer, Richard Hagan, et al. 2018. “Proteomic Evidence of Dietary Sources in Ancient Dental Calculus.” Proc. R. Soc. B 2018  285: 20180977.

Matthew D Teasdale*, Sarah Fiddyment*, Jiří Vnouček, Valeria Mattiangeli, Camilla Speller, Annelise Binois, Martin Carver, Catherine Dand, Timothy P Newfield, Christopher C Webb, Daniel G Bradley, Matthew J Collins. “The York Gospels: a one thousand year biological palimpsest”. Royal Society Open Science 4 (10): 170988. *Co-lead authors

DVP Sommer, K Mühlen Axelsson, MJ Collins, S Fiddyment, J Bredal‐Jørgensen, KP Simonsen, CB Lauridsen, R Larsen. "Multiple

DVP Sommer, K Mühlen Axelsson, MJ Collins, S Fiddyment, J Bredal‐Jørgensen, KP Simonsen, CB Lauridsen, R Larsen. "Multiple Microanalyses of a Sample from the Vinland Map". Archaeometry 2016. doi: 10.1111/arcm.12249.


Sarah Fiddyment, Bruce Holsinger , Chiara Ruzzier , Alexander Devine, Annelise Binois, Umberto Albarella, Roman Fischer, Emma Nichols, Antoinette Curtis, Edward Cheese, Matthew D. Teasdale, Caroline Checkley-Scott, Stephen J. Milner, Kathryn M. Rudy, Eric J. Johnson, Jirí Vnoucek, Mary Garrison, Simon McGrory, Daniel G. Bradley, and Matthew J. Collins. “Animal origin of 13th-century uterine vellum revealed using noninvasive peptide fingerprinting” . PNAS November 23, 2015;112: 15066-15071.

Teasdale MD, van Doorn NL, Fiddyment S, Webb CC, O’Connor T, Hofreiter M, Collins MJ, Bradley DG. “Paging through history: parchment as a reservoir of ancient DNA for next generation sequencing”. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 2015 370: 20130379.

Warinner, C., Matias Rodrigues, J.F., Vyas, R., Trachsel, C., Shved, N., Grossmann, J., Radini, A., Hancock, Y., Tito,R.Y., Fiddyment, S., Speller, C., Hendy, J., Charlton, S., Ulrich Luder, H., Salazar-García,D.C., Eppler, C., Seiler, R., Hansen, L., Samaniego Castruita, J., Barkow-Oesterreicher, S., Teoh, K.Y., Kelstrup, C., Olsen, J.V., Nanni, P., Kawai, T., Willerslev, E., von Mering, C., Lewis, Jr.,C.M., Collins, M.J., Gilbert,M.T.P., Rühli,F., Cappellini, E. "Pathogens and host immunity in the ancient human oral cavity". Nature Genetics. 2014;46(4):336–344.

Fiddyment S, Pocovi M, Garcia-Otin A. "Synthesis and Purification of Recombinant Apolipoprotein Apo A-I Zaragoza (L144R)". Clinica e Investigacion en Arteriosclerosis, 2010: 146-153.

Job Titles

Research Associate, McDonald Institute for Archeological Research

General Info

Not available for consultancy
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Biomolecular Archaeology
Cultural Heritage

Contact Details

Room 2.9 The Henry Wellcome Building, Fitzwilliam Street
sf656 [at]


Person keywords: 
Biocodicology, parchment, manuscripts, proteomics, biomolecular
Material Culture
Periods of interest: