The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to curtail our in-person meetings, but we have resumed live events as of Spring, 2022.

June 24, 2022

Approches (bio)archéologiques: la maladie et la mort dans la France du haut Moyen Âge/
(Bio)archaeological approaches to disease and death in early medieval France


Friday, June 24, 2022

3:00 pm – 4:30 pm EDT
(followed by public reception)
Harvard University • CGIS South:
Belfer Case Study Room (Lower Level)
1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA

Our world has changed. The Covid-19 pandemic has reshaped the
way we think about diseases, their transmission, and their impact on
our lives. But are we the first to face such a crisis?

A shrinking written record marks past pandemics. But the victims remain,
and from their strange burials and ancient DNA, the Science of the
Human Past has begun to reconstruct what happened, in France and
across western Eurasia, during the first pandemic of bubonic plague in
the Roman Empire and its neighbors from 541 to 750 AD.

Come and be a part of the launch of a pioneering international
investigation of anomalous burials in France that take us back to
that first pandemic. Learn what French archaeologists and the
Max Planck-Harvard Research Center for Archaeoscience’s
biomolecular archaeologists are discovering today.


Join us and our expert archaeologists in a new transatlantic
collaboration that brings together Harvard University, the                        
Max Planck-Harvard Research Center for Archaeoscience and
the advanced research of France.

Speakers and Discussants:                                                       

  • Philippe Blanchard, Archéologue, Ingénieur chargé de Recherche Inrap/UMR 5199 PACEA

  • Isabelle Catteddu, Ingénieure Chargée de Recherche à l'Inrap Grand Ouest, Archéologue Spécialiste du premier

    Moyen Age rural, UMR 6566 CReAAH

  • Valérie Delattre, Archéo-anthropologue Inrap, UMR 6298 ARTeHIS -Université de Bourgogne

  • Michael McCormick, Francis Goelet Professor of Medieval History, Harvard University; Chair, Initiative for the

    Science of the Human Past at Harvard (SoHP); Director at Harvard, Max Planck-Harvard Research Center for the

    Archaeoscience of the Ancient Mediterranean (MHAAM).

  • Claude Raynaud, Directeur de recherches, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, UMR 5140 ASM, LabEx

  • Solenn Troadec, Postdoctoral Fellow, Initiative for the Science of the Human Past, Harvard University

  • Marie-Cécile Truc, Responsable d’opération et étude du petit mobilier haut Moyen Âge - Moyen Âge, Ingénieure de

    recherche Inrap, UMR 6273 CRAHAM Université de Caen

    Sponsored by the Max Planck-Harvard Research Center for the Archaeoscience of the Ancient Mediterranean (MHAAM) and the Initiative for the Science of the Human Past at Harvard (SoHP), with the support of the Standing Committee on Medieval Studies at Harvard and the Richard Lounsbery Foundation, fostering French-American cooperation in science and technology.

Double Burial © M.C.Truc, Inrap (Pont-sur-Seine, Aube, 2007)

Video of Presentations

May 12, 2022

Post-Pandemic Update:
What has theScience of the Human Past Discovered Lately?

Thursday, May 12, 2022 • 3:00 – 4:30PM
CGIS South: Belfer Case Study Room
1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA


Margaret Andrews - Department of Classics;
Michael Isakov - Departments of Mathematics/Statistics;
Michael McCormick - Department of History, Max Planck-Harvard
  Research Center for Archaeoscience, Science of the Human Past at Harvard;
Alexander More - Science of the Human Past at Harvard;
Gabriel Pizzorno - Department of History; 
Daniel Lord Smail - Department of History;
Solenn Troadec - Max Planck-Harvard Research Center for Archaeoscience;
David Reich - Department of Human Evolutionary Biology and Genetics, HMS; 

  Max Planck-Harvard Research Center for Archaeoscience;
Jason Ur - Department of Anthropology/Archaeology;
Christina Warinner - Department of Anthropology,
  Max Planck-Harvard Research Center for Archaeoscience.


                                                                                               Video of Presentations

Selected past events...before the pandemic.
For some recent online events, see Pandemics Past.

November 1, 2019
From Homer to History
with the Max Planck-Harvard Research Center:
Recent results from Bronze Age Investigations

Friday, November 1, 2019
1:00 – 5:00PM, Tsai Auditorium, CGIS South
1730 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA

MHAAM German and U.S. team members will present some of our most remarkable discoveries from archaeoscience and ancient genetics. All of us at MHAAM would be delighted if you are able to join us for this program, which will provide new insights into the ancient world and the origins of classical civilization. 
Public reception to follow!

Supported by
INSTAP and The Goelet-Berkowitz Fund

MHAAM Workshop_sm.jpg

October 15, 2019

Marriage, Mobility, & Households in Bronze Age Germany:
Integrating Ancient DNA, Isotopes & Archaeology

A Public Lecture featuring
Dr. Alissa Mittnik
Department of Genetics, Reich Lab
Harvard Medical School

October 15, 2019  •  5:30 – 6:30PM
CGIS South: S020 Belfer Case Study Room
1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA

Public reception to follow.

Dr. Mittnik will speak on her remarkable research showing the power of traditional archaeological and newer archaeoscientific methods to illuminate life in Bronze Age Germany. Professor Matthew Liebmann (Archaeology/Anthropology) will comment.

Co-sponsored by The Standing Committee on Archaeology
at Harvard University and the Initiative for the Science of the Human Past at Harvard


Video of Dr. Mittnik's lecture at Harvard

November 2, 2018


The Max Planck-Harvard Research Center for the Archaeoscience of the Ancient Mediterranean (MHAAM), a collaboration between The Initiative for the Science of the Human Past at Harvard (SoHP) and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany (MPISHH) announces an opportunity for recent and graduating seniors and Master’s students to participate in a Symposium scheduled at Harvard University on Friday, November 2nd, 2018.  Students will have an opportunity to present cross-disciplinary research which utilizes modern scientific tools and knowledge to illuminate the history of humanity, and to network with other students and faculty members similarly engaged.  An interest in the Ancient Mediterranean is desirable but not indispensable.

For students coming from outside the Boston/Cambridge area for the November 2nd Symposium, a limited number of awards of up to $500 to defray lodging and travel costs are available.  Students interested in applying for the Symposium should arrange to send a letter of application, along with an abstract of research to be presented, a CV, an academic transcript, and a letter of recommendation, to be submitted by October 18th at the latest to

MHAAM is also offering a new PhD Fellowship opportunity for the 2019-2020 academic year and beyond.  This 5-year fully-funded PhD fellowship for study and research on the science of the human past is an opportunity for interdisciplinary study at Harvard and in Jena, Germany.  An interest in the Ancient Mediterranean and in ancient DNA is useful but not required. PhD degrees will be awarded through Harvard University, notably in the following departments:

2018 Symposium FlyerSM.jpg

·      The Archaeology Program within the Anthropology Department (Deadline: December 15, 2018)

·      History (Deadline: December 15, 2018)

·      Human Evolutionary Biology (Deadline: December 1, 2018)

·      Organismic and Evolutionary Biology (Deadline: December 1, 2018)

·      Additional Departments Forthcoming


Candidates for the Fellowship will apply for admission to one of these Harvard University PhD Programs to be considered eligible for this full funding opportunity through the Max Planck-Harvard collaboration.  Applicants must specify their interest in the MHAAM Fellowship Program within the application, and must additionally send a copy of the application to, or via mail to:


Lisa Ransom Lubarr

Harvard University

Robinson Hall M-03

35 Quincy Street

Cambridge, MA  02138

April 18, 2018

Date: Wednesday, April 11, 2018, 5:30pm to 7:00pm

Location: Belfer Case Study Room, CGIS South, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA

Johannes Krause (Director, Department of Archaeogenetics, MPISSH Jena, Univ. Tübingen)

Link to article in Nature: "Salmonella enterica genomes from victims of a major sixteenth-century epidemic in Mexico," 15 January 2018

With comments by Edward T. Ryan, Director of Global Infectious Disease, Massachusetts General Hospital, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard School of Public Health, and Principal Investigator, Harvard collaboration with the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research in Dhaka, Bangladesh
Noreen Tuross, Landon T. Clay Professor of Scientific Archaeology, Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University.

Genome-wide data from ancient microbes may help to understand mechanisms of pathogen evolution and adaptation for today’s emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. Ancient pathogen genomes provide, furthermore, the possibility to identify causative agents of past pandemics and therefore elucidate mortality crisis such as those that marked the early contact period in the New World. In order to identify the presence of pathogens in past populations our group used a novel high-throughput DNA sequence alignment and taxonomic assignment tool MALT (MEGAN ALignment Tool) and were able to identify traces of Salmonella enterica DNA in individuals buried in an early contact era epidemic cemetery at Teposcolula-Yucundaa, Oaxaca in Southern Mexico. This cemetery is linked to the 1545–1550 CE epidemic that affected large parts of Mexico, the pathogenic cause of which has been debated for more than a century. After application of a specifically designed targeted DNA enrichment procedure we generated genome-wide data from ten individuals for Salmonella enterica subsp. entericaserovar Paratyphi C, a bacterial cause of enteric fever. We propose S. Paratyphi C as a strong candidate for the epidemic population decline during the 1545 outbreak at Teposcolula-Yucundaa and provide evidence that it was likely introduced by Europeans.



Video of Dr. Krause's lecture at Harvard

October 10, 2017

Date: Tuesday, October 10, 2017, 2:00pm to 6:00pm

Location: Barker Center: Thompson Room (12 Quincy Street, Cambridge)

Under the auspices of the Initiative for the Science of the Human Past at Harvard, and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, we are launching an exciting new virtual Research Center at Harvard and Jena: The Max Planck Harvard Research Center for the Archaeoscience of the Ancient Mediterranean (MHAAM). We are combining our institutions’ strengths in genetics, archaeology, history, and philology to bring the power of 21st-century technology to bear on some of history's great unsolved questions, starting with the peopling of the ancient Mediterranean, and the identity and impact of ancient pathogens on the fall of the Roman Empire.


On Tuesday, October 10, Harvard will be hosting an inaugural workshop presenting some of the remarkable results of the initial research programs undertaken by MHAAM. We would be honored if you are able to join us for this unique event in Harvard Yard:

  • 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm: Public presentations of the first scientific results from MHAAM. Speakers will include Susan Alcock (University of Michigan), Johannes Krause (Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena), Iosif Lazaridis, Michael McCormick, and David Reich (Harvard University).



Video of the MHAAM inaugural symposium