Working Group Project

Investigating Ancient DNA of Antique Population

Workshop & Empirical Study

The archaeological site of Thugga (nowadays called Dougga) is located in North-Western Tunisia. The city of Dougga preserves four millennia of history. It is a distinguished cultural heritage site that presents itself as an open-air museum featuring perfectly preserved ruins and inscriptions. 
In an interdisciplinary workshop, researchers and stakeholders discussed approaches to elucidate the history of the antique city of Dougga. Their applied methods include architectural, archaeozoological, anthropological, ceramic, epigraphic, and numismatic analyses as well as the study of funeral practices.

This project is a new challenge of what I call “out of the box research” to experience to what extent I as a geneticist or molecular biologist can collaborate with researchers from different disciplines that seem to be far away from mine.

AGYA member Dr. Olfa Messaoud, Human Genetics, University Tunis El Manar, Tunisia

This workshop brought together experts from the fields of molecular anthropology, archaeoanthropology, history, genetics and molecular biology, and architecture to name only a few. 

As a molecular anthropologist, specialist in the study of ancient DNA, I am very happy to be part of this cross-interdisciplinary project, which gives me also a great opportunity to know more about AGYA activities and to build a network connecting together members from diverse academies.

Rym Kefi, Molecular Anthropology, Institut Pasteur de Tunis, Tunisia

Members of the AGYA Working Group Common Heritage & Common Challenges added a fresh perspective to the research on the archaeological site of Dougga by investigating ancient DNA samples to determine the genetic fingerprints and relations of individuals inhumed in the same burials. They intend to identify the genetic composition of the antique population and their potential origins.

To answer complex questions about human experiences and life worlds in the past, it is mandatory to combine expertise and methodologies from various disciplines. Learning about the ancient site of Dougga felt like solving a gigantic puzzle as a team. We do not just get faster or more comprehensive answers, we pose entirely different questions and find new ways to think about evidence, validity and comparisons.

AGYA member Dr. Barbara Henning, History, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Germany


Disciplines Involved
Archeology, History, Arabic Studies, Human Genetics, Anthropology
Cooperation Partners
Institut Pasteur de Tunis, Tunisia
National Institute of Heritage, Tunisia
9 - 11 May 2022
The Archaeological Site of Dougga
Carthage National Museum, Tunisia
Project Title
Interdisciplinary Investigations of the Archaeological Site of Dougga (Thugga) in Tunisia
Funding Scheme
Working Group Project
Working Group
Common Heritage and Common Challenges
Countries Involved
Germany, Tunisia, Algeria, France

Interdisciplinary Research at the Site of Dougga

Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Dougga and listen to the highlights and outcomes of the AGYA workshop in Tunisia tackling the investigation of ancient DNA samples to determine relations of the antique population.

Video Cover