Laura Viñas Caron



Laura Viñas obtained a BA in Archaeology from the Autonomous University of Barcelona in 2016 and then a MSc in Biological Anthropology in 2017. After that, she did an ERASMUS research internship at BioArCh, University of York, where she explored the diet and subsistence strategies of Chalcolithic and Bronze Age communities in the NE of the Iberian Peninsula using different biomolecular techniques such as peptide mass fingerprinting (ZooMS) and stable isotope analysis (δ13C, δ15N) of human, animal and plant remains. She then returned to the Autonomous University of Barcelona, where she pursued isotopic analyses on animal remains, in collaboration with the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA-UAB), to evaluate the degree of human interference on the diet of the first domestic animals and the diversity of animal management strategies during the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in Iberia.

Since then, she has developed a particular interest in the application of biomolecular methods to understand past animal populations and their relationship with human societies, and how we can use these data to address current conservation challenges. As part of the B2C project, Laura is now conducting a PhD at the University of Copenhagen as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie COFUND fellow. She studies how the biological information trapped on parchment manuscripts can help to understand the domestication and management of animals; and the development of past economic activities such as textile production.

Research: PRiSM

Parchment manuscripts as a biomolecular archive: a novel approach for understanding the origin of Spanish Merino

Wool industry is one of the most important worldwide, the majority of which is merino wool. Coveted for its fineness and strength, merino wool has been a high valued commodity since its development in medieval Spain. But, despite its importance in historic and contemporary global trade, the origin and history of the Merino breed is frustratingly vague. With limited historic textile evidence to analyse, a new avenue of study has emerged through the analysis of parchment. Parchment manuscripts (often well dated and located) contain biological information about the animals from which the parchment was derived.

The purpose of PRiSM is to explore how the DNA and proteins trapped in parchment manuscripts can inform about animal husbandry practices, in combination with animal remains, and apply this novel approach to understand the story of the emergence and evolution of the Spanish Merino. The project will apply genomic and proteomic analysis to parchment manuscripts and sheep remains to explore biological diversity and identify genetic Merino markers. In addition, we will analyse the follicles patterns observed in the parchment to directly link the genetic evidence with wool production.

Contact details

Section for Evolutionary Genomics

The GLOBE Institute, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen

Øster Farimagsgade 5, 1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark

Centre for Textile Research

Saxo Institute, Faculty of Humanities, University of Copenhagen

Karen Blixens Plads 8, 2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark

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