Matthew Collins receives ERC grant for research on old animal skins

Niels Bohr Professor Matthew Collins, from the Natural History Museum of Denmark at the University of Copenhagen, has received a prestigious grant from the European Research Council to research tracks of DNA in parchments.

Old parchment holds information on the connection between breeding of domestic animals and the production of parchments. (Photo: Matthew Collins)

Niels Bohr Professor Matthew Collins, a professor of archeology at the Natural History Museum of Denmark at the University of Copenhagen, has received a grant from the European Research Council for a new project called B2C – Beasts to Craft. Collins will oversee the research project, which will study tracks of DNA in ancient parchments, which were the ancestors to paper.

Until now, scientists have primarily used the writing on parchments as their study material. But parchment consists of animal skin, and therefore, Collins notes, it holds enormous amounts of undiscovered information. With the B2C project, Collins wants to investigate the historical connection between the breeding of domestic animals and the production of parchments.

“We hope to figure out how animal breeding and the usage of keeping domestic animals have changed the animals genetically and in terms of breeding throughout history. For example, we would be able to see from the parchments when the animals were getting fatter, because it makes the quality of parchment worse,” Collins told the University of Copenhagen.

The ERC grant includes 16.8 million DKK.

More information about Matthew Collins and his research can be found in this video:   

Further information on Matthew Collins can be found in an article at videnskab.dk on the occasion of the establishment of the Niels Bohr chair here (in Danish).



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