Our aim behind this series of workshops is to bring together archaeological, anthropological, and scientific experts from all over South Asia and some from abroad, who share a deep interest in the reconstruction of the South Asian cultural and biological past as well as the implementation of cutting-edge technologies such as ancient DNA.
We are pleased to announce the workshop series on “Scientific Applications in South Asian Archaeology: An integrative platform for research on reconstruction of the past.” The third edition of this workshop series is scheduled for December 9th-11th 2022 in Kohima, Nagaland.
This workshop series was conceived by Assistant Prof. Maanasa Raghavan, the University of Chicago, and Dr. Niraj Rai, BSIP, Lucknow, who lead ancient genetics research groups in their respective institutions and are long-term collaborators.
The rationale behind convening this series of workshops is to bring together archaeological, anthropological, and scientific experts from the length and breadth of India, and some from abroad, who share a deep interest in the reconstruction of the South Asian cultural and biological past. Dating techniques, specialized microscopy methods, isotopes, and more recently, ancient DNA, are a few examples of scientific tools being used to complement the rich archaeological and historical evidence on past human demography, lifestyle, and their biophysical environments. With the increased uptake of such techniques in global archaeological research, we think the time might be right to discuss the potential for such work in South Asia under a sustainable framework of cross-disciplinary collaborations.
In the 2019 and June 2022 workshops, we hosted a rich mix of invited talks and panel discussions showcasing the latest results in Indian archaeology and archaeological sciences, as well as brainstorming sessions to discuss current and future research questions, hypotheses, issues, concerns, and sustainable collaborative potential between archaeology and biological sciences. We had roughly 25-30 invited participants in each edition, with a mix of established researchers as well as early-stage researchers and trainees in archaeology, (paleo)anthropology, and sciences such as geology, biology, and biochemistry. The response from these meetings was overwhelmingly positive with suggestions that we make this an annual effort. Additionally, in the June 2022 edition, we convened a special focus panel on regulatory measures and general considerations around the destructive sampling of human bones for scientific analyses.
In the December 2022 edition in Nagaland, we aim to continue these conversations as well as introduce new topics of interest, particularly themes around ethics and community engagement.
Our team is the result of collaboration between the University of Chicago, USA and Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences, Lucknow, India.
Department of Human Genetics
University of Chicago
Maanasa's research interests span questions and applications in multiple fields, including population genetics/genomics, anthropology, archaeology, and medical genetics. The big question driving her research is: ‘How have demographic, cultural, and environmental factors contributed over time to shaping the genetic profiles of present-day human populations?’ In order to address specific research questions embedded within this overarching goal, we use a combined approach that brings together genome-scale data from present-day and ancient humans and their biotic environment, especially domesticates and pathogens.
Scientist & Lab Head
Ancient DNA Laboratory
Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosicences
Niraj uses Archaeogenetics or Ancient DNA as a powerful method to isolate DNA from ancient biological remains and to understand directly the relationship of one group of the population who lived at some point in the past to another that existed prior or who lived later in time and make suggestions on population history and migration.
His lab works in reconstructing the complex human population history of India and investigating the origin, admixture and spread of crop domestication in India. He is also working on cattle domestication and its impact on human migration, the origin and spread of ancient pathogens and reconstructing the phylogeny of extinct Flora and Fauna of the Indian sub-continent.
This workshop series is organized with the help of students of the University of Chicago, USA, and the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences (BSIP, Lucknow), India.
Local Organizing Team
The Team from the Department of History & Archaeology, Nagaland University, Kohima Campus, Meriema