The most significant results of this research will come from a comparison between those data for humans and corresponding animal remains which may allow the identification of animal-human vectors and their interaction.
How can this research help us today?
Preliminary work suggests that there is sufficient DNA in the bone samples to make a contribution to our understanding of the origin and development of microbial disease which could provide crucial information in the evolution of tuberculosis.
Spigelman believes that knowing how a disease developed 6,000 years ago helps us understand what it will do as it continues to evolve, and will ultimately alter the practice of public health officials in combating it.
Where were the bones until now?
Spigelman came across the long-forgotten bones while examining mummies at Sydney University's Nicholson Museum.
"They told me they had lots of boxes of bones and didn't know what they were because they'd been deposited there fifty years earlier by an anthropologist who'd worked with Dr. Kathleen Kenyon who'd been excavating at Jericho. When I examined them, I recognized that these were the bones from Jericho, and I told them not throw them out!"
Some of the bones, which were then brought to Israel by Spigelman while on a Sir Zelman Cowan Fund fellowship, will be studied along with other bones from Jericho that have been contributed by the Duckworth Collection at Cambridge University who have agreed to participate in the project.
The research, which is being sponsored by a grant from the German Science Foundation, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), will be conducted by the Hebrew University, Al Quds University and the Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich. In Israel, Ph.D. and master's students from both Al-
|Contact: Rebecca Zeffert|
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem