Experts in ancient textile fibre and hair examination
Uncover the Past
Ancient Human Hair
Ancient Animal Hair
Examination of ancient textile fibres
Over 35 years of experience
Archaeological specimens hair and textile fibres
Human or animal hair is one of the most frequently encountered materials in forensic crime scene investigations and at ancient burial sites.
Hair is not easily destroyed and is capable of surviving for millennia. Ancient hairs and textile fibres uncovered from archaeological sites provide a fascinating resource to reconstruct past events.
We regularly engage in collaborative approaches to ancient hair examinations and can also examine textile fibres. We apply our forensic expertise, undertaking extreme precaution and compliance, to ensure the integrity of the ancient hair or fibres for future DNA analyses.
Microscopical examination of ancient hairs and textile fibres is a specialised field in which Dr. Silvana Tridico, Director and principal forensic biologist of Forensic Science & WildLife Matters, has national and international recognition, as well as being widely published in this sector.
Ancient hair examination
The basis of all ancient hair examination is microscopy. This allows us to identify a hair as human or animal in origin, characterise the hair to a particular family or species, identify a geographical location, elemental composition, sex, food habits, environmental conditions and conduct comparative examinations. Hair examination for post-mortem degradation may indicate the factors responsible and the conditions at the time of death.
Due to the intricacies of species identification, ancient animal hair examination requires a different skillset and specialised knowledge to those required for human hair comparisons.
Silvana’s skills as a forensic human and animal hair examiner are directly transferrable to the examination of ancient hairs and textile fibres. With over 35 years of experience as a forensic biologist, she has examined hair samples from ancient woolly mammoths and extinct woolly rhino’s, through to modern humans.
Silvana was the first person to find unique features in mammoth hairs which challenged what people thought mammoths looked like. Originally thought to be a bright orangey-red colour, Silvana discovered that they came in a variety of colours, including pale brown and reddy-brown. She also identified a woolly mammoth with nits from 50,000 years ago.
Hair can withstand the test of time and provide us with a wealth of information.
Archaeological textile fibre examination
Forensic Science & WildLife Matters has extensive experience in the examination of ancient textile fibres.
Human archaeological graves often contain the remains of the deceased surrounded by artefacts that were cherished in life.
The identification of ancient textile fibres is significant and can provide us with a multitude of information about textile production, the authenticity of artefacts, people and society in ancient times. The state of the fibre may also provide details of burial conditions, the effectors of decay and age. Any damage to the fibre may determine the type of implement used in a crime.
Assistance to the general public and museums
We can also assist the general public and museums through tailored archaeological services, including:
- Microscopical examination of hair from ancient or modern wigs to advise if the hair is human, animal or synthetic in origin.
- Microscopical examination of museum ethnographic items made from or containing mammalian hair to identify if the hair is human or animal in origin.
Uncover the past
Our approach to archaeological textile fibre and specimens hair examination is demonstrably effective and successful. We refer you to two of our previous published studies in Science’s top two journals, ‘Science’ and ‘Nature’ (Silvana is the only forensic biologist to be published in both of these notable world leading multidisciplinary journals):
Rasmussen et al., ‘Ancient human genome sequence of an extinct Palaeo-Eskimo,’ Nature, Vol. 463, Issue 7282 (2010).
Rasmussen et al., ‘An Aboriginal Australian genome reveals separate human dispersals into Asia,’ Science, 334, 94 (2011).
Forensic Science Services
At Forensic Science & WildLife Matters, we provide a comprehensive range of forensic science services. Covering crime scene interpretation, analyses of trace and biological evidence, DNA profiling, bloodstain pattern analysis, the examination of human and animal hair, through to expert witness at court.