The Tracking Ancient Epidemics Project
The Tracking Ancient Epidemics Project (TRACK) is multidisciplinary research using stable isotopes, paleoproteomics and ancient DNA to understand the origins and development of some of the earliest pandemics in the world directed by Dr. Andrea Vianello. The current focus of the project is on the burials from the Old Lazaret Isle in the lagoon of Venice, Italy, where the first quarantine was established in 1423 following the Black Death pandemic. Its main aims are to recognize ancient pathogens (proteomics), analyze their changing DNA for evolutionary genomics (aDNA), and use historical sources and stable isotopes (C, N for diet/malnutrition) to track their impacts both biologically and socially. The research project also investigates the co-evolution of pathogens and humans from the early pandemics caused by the bubonic plague to better understand recent epidemics such as COVID-19. The team integrates biological -omics data with historical and archaeological information about impacts and responses of bodies, pathogens, societies and economies.