When we opened our call for micro funding of archaeological experiments in 2021, little did we know we would receive 22 applications from around the world. The themes and approaches were truly diverse, including both creativity and academic rigour. Thanks to our sponsor, EXARC member John Kiernan, the jury has actually been able to select three winners of 500 EUR each, not just two.
Ms Sandron is a master’s student at the University of Torino, Italy and this is her update on the project.
Experimental Archaeology and the sustainability of dental calculus research: the case of chocolate and the nuns of S. Maria della Stella’s church, Saluzzo, Italy
"Thanks to EXARC, I can spend my days in the lab working as a maitre chocolatier! I am processing a variety of chocolate beans with mortar and pestle to create a novel reference collection for microscopists that includes ingredients and recipes used by chocolatiers during the post-medieval period. The reference collection will help me to evaluate the micromorphological and potentially diagnostic characteristics of the “micro-dèbris” using optical transmitted light microscopy and to help us understand if the presence of chocolate can be detected in ancient human dental calculus, a precious typology of material in Bioarchaeology."
Fig 1. Some of the commercial flours used for the reference collection
Fig 2. Cocoa beans processed with mortar and pestle