Romania Project


Challenges related to rapid population growth, increasing urbanization, and climate change, are all staring at humans in the face. To better understand these forces, Sterling Wright is part of an archaeological project taking place in Romania. He, along with archaeologists, classicists, ichthyologists, and paleontologists, are working at Histria, an urban settlement that had several thousand residents. Near the Iron Gates of the Danube River, Histria was a bustling city with an extensive trade network spanning across Europe, Eurasia, Asia, and Africa. Literary sources describe how Histria experienced environmental stresses and demographic changes throughout its history. However, these sources were written by only the elite, and therefore, provide a narrow view of the past. Through microbiome research, Sterling is hoping to give a voice to the non-elite residents at the site. By studying microbes found in the dental calculus of non-elites, he is hoping that he can learn more about what is not found in documents, such as their oral health, diet, cultural practices, and the places that they visited. In addition, he will study the site’s soil microbiome to provide scientists with new information about how humans used the landscape. For instance, agriculture can change the fertility of soil because it reduces the numbers of microbes that can live there. In time, less microbial diversity leads to smaller crop yields which in turn can cause food scarcity. Through these efforts, Sterling hopes that this new information about the resilience and adaptability of ecosystems at Histria, will help scientists, city planners, and law makers develop strategies for current environmental and demographic issues.

Project Lead

Sterling Wright

For more information, contact Sterling.