Scheda insegnamento

Anno Accademico 2017/2018

Conoscenze e abilità da conseguire

At the end of the course the student will acquire: - scientific and technical knowledge of the methods and techniques to study ancient DNA; - scientific and technical knowledge to face the problems connected to biological growth on natural and artificial stone materials constituting cultural heritage; - knowledge of organisms developing on stone materials; connection among organisms, ecosystems and cultural heritage; monitoring and definition of conservation interventions; - the use of the subjects specific language in a clear and effective way; - scientific and technical knowledge of the biological materials of the archaeological contexts and in particular of the skeletal remains; - knowledge of bone and bone modification by taphonomic processes; - scientific and technical knowledge of the methods and techniques to study ancient DNA; - knowledge of the techniques for the extraction and amplification of DNA recovered from ancient biological samples.


The course consists of three modules:

1. Study, Degradation and Intervention on bioarchaeological materials

2. Ancient DNA

3. Biodeterioration of stone materials and control methods of the biodeteriogens

 Each module consists of: 

  • 3 CFU of frontal lessons (18 hours)
  • 1 CFU of laboratory (12 hours)


The program of the modules 1 and 2 refers to the state of conservation of the human skeletal remains in archaeological contexts and to the ancient DNA.


The program of the module 1 is:

Bioarchaeology and human skeletons (bones and teeth); Human skeletal biology; Skeletal tissues and bone anatomy; Taphonomy and state of conservation of the skeletal remains; Different state of conservation and funerary rituals; Different state of conservation of the the skeletal remains coming from archaeological and museal collections; Laboratory procedures and reports; Restoration of the human skeletal remains; Case studies.


The program of the module 2 is:

The biomolecules in archaeological samples. General principles of cell biology. The genome; DNA: structure and function. Nuclear and mitochondrial DNA. The genetic code. The mechanisms of replication, transcription and translation of DNA. Mutation and genetic polymorphisms for study of the variability of the human genome. Ancient DNA analysis, preservation and decay of ancient DNA; contamination; sources of ancient DNA in archaeological specimens; the recovery and the choice and the suitable samples; technical challenges. Laboratory methodologies: DNA extraction, horizontal electrophoresis on agarose gel, PCR and Real Time PCR, sequencing. Applications: study of the origin and diffusion of modern humans and relationship with other hominids, determination of sex, personal identification, determination of family relationships, identification of animal and plant species, analysis of phylogenetic relationships and genetic continuity, identification of specific infectious or hereditary diseases.

The course provides practical laboratory lessons where students will be able to perform some molecular techniques such as the extraction and amplification of DNA from biological samples (buccal mucosa, plant samples, bioarchaeological remains).


 The program of the module 3 is:

Basic principles of biochemistry and biology. Ecology. Bioreceptivity of natural and artificial stones including wall paintings. Limiting factors of biological growth: pH, light, temperature, water, eutrophication of the substrates, pollution. Morphological, structural, physiological, and reproductive characteristics of: bacteria (cyanobacteria, heterotrophic bacteria, actinomycetes); algae; fungi; lichens (epilitihic and endolitihic crustose lichens, foliose lichens, fruticose lichens); bryophytes; vascular plants. Biofilms. Calcium oxalate films. Mechanical and chemical processes of degradation caused by biodeteriogens. Prevention of biological growth in indoor and outdoor environments. Control methods of biodeterioration: physical eradication; mechanical and water-based control methods; biocides (active ingredients, coformulates, lethal dose, lethal concentration, technical data sheet);toxicity and legislative regulations; mechanisms of antimicrobial action of biocides.

The laboratory practice foresees: Sampling of different biodeteriogens growing on stone; Observation of samples under the stereomicroscope (The observation is carried out directly on samples); Making a cross-section starting from the sample; Observation of cross-sections and glass slides under the optical microscope (visible and UV lights); Observation of Petri dishes and microbiological colonies.



Module 1

White T, Folkens PA (2005) Human bone manual. Elsevier Academic Press.

Schotsmans EMJ, Marquez-Grant N, Forbes SL (2017) Taphonomy of human remains. John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Module 2

Brown T and Brown K (2011) Biomolecular archaeology. An introduction. Wiley-Blackwell.


Module 3

Caneva G, Nugari MP, Salvadori O (editors) (2008). Plant Biology for Cultural Heritage: Biodeterioration and Conservation. The Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, USA.

Pinna D. (2017) Coping with biological growth on stone heritage objects: methods, products, applications, and perspectives. Apple Academic Press, Waretown, USA.


Details about the use of these manuals will be provided during the course.


The slide of the courses wil be provided.

Scientific papers about the topics of the course may be provided during classes.

Metodi didattici

The first part of the course is:

Biodeterioration of stone materials and control methods of the bioderiogens.

  • the frontal and laboratory lessons will be held at Ravenna.

The second part of the course is:

Study, Degradation and Intervention on bioarchaeological materials

  • the frontal lessons will be held at Ravenna and two laboratories at Bologna.

The third part of the course is:

 Molecular analysis on bioarchaeological materials.

  • the frontal and laboratory lessons will be held at Ravenna.

Modalità di verifica dell'apprendimento

The exam consists in an oral test and has the aim to evaluate the reaching of the teaching purposes.

Even though the course is organized in three different parts the exam will be unique and held by the three teachers in the same day. Each teacher will ask at least one question and the final grade will be an average of the grade of the different questions.

Strumenti a supporto della didattica

Computer projector, PC, overhead projector, laboratory hands-on

Orario di ricevimento

Consulta il sito web di Maria Giovanna Belcastro

Consulta il sito web di Elisabetta Cilli

Consulta il sito web di Daniela Pinna