Aarhus University Seal

UrbNet core collaborator Associate Professor Søren Munch Kristiansen receives 2 million DKK from the Villum Foundation

The extraordinary project ‘Fingerprinting displaced molecular substances and environmental health in deep history: archaeo-xenobiotics’ is part of the Villum Experiment Programme 2023.

Associate Professor Søren Munch Kristiansen has been awarded the Villum Experiment grant to test whether it is possible to trace past human activities on a molecular basis. Using high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS), in combination with advanced computational methods, the project will explore how contemporary environmental methods can be used to trace displaced substances, such as spices, medicine, stimulants, or drugs in past environments as examples of key vectors in a ‘deep’ history of human ecology.

 “Our hypothesis is that a wide range of past human activities have left persistent, molecular traces and that application of a ‘multiomics’ approach can reveal key components of our understanding of past global environmental change, which have hitherto been untraceable”, says Søren Munch Kristiansen.

The two-year project is a collaboration between Søren Munch Kristiansen, Associate Professor Martin Hansen from Department of Environmental Science and UrbNet deputy director Professor Søren M. Sindbæk. If the analytical development succeeds, the project will fundamentally transform the future research into global environmental changes.

This quirky and truly interdisciplinary experiment, exploring archaeological deposits covering both consumption within Rome and the global ‘spice trade’ since the Middle Ages, would not be possible without collaboration and feedback from archaeologist at the Centre for Urban Networks and Evolutions”, Søren Munch Kristiansen says. 

About the Villum Experiment Programme

The Villum Experiment Programme was founded in 2017. It was created for research projects in technical and natural sciences that challenge the norm and the way we approach important subjects. The projects do not have to have a specific solution to a known problem as their end goal. Projects can also simply explore unknown territory. The programme is announced once a year, and this year 97 million DKK was awarded to 49 extraordinary research ideas.

Find out more

Read more about the new project at the Department of Geoscience here: https://geo.au.dk/en/about-geoscience/current/news/news-item/artikel/bevillinger-til-skaeve-ideer.

For more on the Villum Experiment Programme and this year’s recipients here: https://veluxfoundations.dk/en/content/villum-experiment-2023.