Arvin Raj Mathur
My background is quite diverse. I began as an undergraduate with diverse interests and studied archaeology, Mayan epigraphy, history, and Classical Arabic historiography, German and Modern Standard Arabic. Later, I became interested in the archaeology of the Indus Civilization, as well as ceramics and cuisine. I traveled to India and West Asia to learn about the region and build relationships with local scholars. My introduction to biomolecular archaeology began in 2018, when I began my MSc. In Archaeological Science at the University of Tübingen, Germany, where I learned organic residue analysis of food lipids under Dr. Cynthianne Spiteri. During this time, I also completed an internship at the British Museum, and was also given the opportunity to do some work at the University of York. In Tübingen, I was also trained in ceramic petrography by Dr. Silvia Amicone and conducted the analysis of Potporanj, Serbia, as well as several sites in Kazakhstan. For my MSc. Thesis I conducted a lipid residue study of the Early Harappan phases at Harappa, Pakistan.
Following this rigorous scientific training, I completed an MA in Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I received focused training on the archaeology of the Indus Civilization under Prof. Jonathan Mark Kenoyer and participated in the excavations at Ra’s al-Hadd (HD1) in Oman. During my master’s degrees, I began to make observations that led me to become more interested in method development projects. This led me to find my current position (ESR5 in the ChemArch ITN) which directly matches my interests.
My project focuses on developing new methods for extracting biomolecules from mineral surfaces, a topic that I have been enthusiastic about for years. The project aims to study both covalent and non-covalent interactions between biomolecules and ceramics and to develop new approaches to efficiently extracting and better understanding food lipids and proteins in archaeological ceramics. During this process, I hope to also develop ways of recognizing and understanding non-enzymatic/non-biological post-translational modifications (PTMs) in proteins that result directly from the cooking process.