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Health Sciences staff profiles

Monica Tromp

PositionAffiliate Researcher
DepartmentDepartment of Anatomy
QualificationsBA MS PhD
Research summaryThe relationship between people and plants in the past

Research

I study microremains that are found inside of ancient dental calculus or tartar—the stuff the dentist scrapes off of your teeth. Dental calculus builds up on your teeth throughout your life and has the potential to capture tiny bits of everything that comes into contact with your mouth, including plant and animal tissues, fibres from using your teeth as tools, parasites, bacteria, viruses and DNA from all of these things.

My main focus is on plant microremains. Plants provide breathable air, nutrition and medicine—without them we would not be able to exist. Understanding our shared history with plants is extremely important as our environment continues to change at an accelerated pace today.

I have two main focuses in my research: First, I look at microscopic plant and animal skeletons to figure out what people ate in the past. Second, I use this same information to understand how people were interacting with their environments by comparing what I find in their mouths to what myself and others have found in their environment. So far my research has helped to refine when the sweet potato was introduced into Polynesia and examined how drinking water was collected in Rapa Nui, an area with almost no accessible freshwater sources.

For my PhD I examined dental calculus from some of the first people and pigs to colonise the Pacific in Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.

Monica is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. While there she is investigating the relationship between plants and people, especially as they relate to migration, diet and health during the Austronesian expansion into the Pacific.

Monica retains her association with the Department of Anatomy as an Affiliate Researcher.

Publications

Tromp, M., Buckley, H., Geber, J., & Matisoo-Smith, E. (2017). EDTA decalcification of dental calculus as an alternate means of microparticle extraction from archaeological samples. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 14, 461-466. doi: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2017.06.035

Maxwell, J. J., & Tromp, M. (2016). Corynocarpus laevigatus: Where art thou? Finding evidence of this elusive tree crop. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 234, 198-210. doi: 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2016.09.009

Tromp, M., Dudgeon, J. V., Buckley, H. R., & Matisoo-Smith, E. A. (2016). Dental calculus and plant diet in Oceania. In M. Oxenham & H. Buckley (Eds.), Routledge handbook of bioarchaeology in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. (pp. 599-622). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Tromp, M., & Dudgeon, J. V. (2015). Differentiating dietary and non-dietary microfossils extracted from human dental calculus: The importance of sweet potato to ancient diet on Rapa Nui. Journal of Archaeological Science, 54, 54-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jas.2014.11.024

Ball, T. B., Davis, A., Evett, R. R., Ladwig, J. L., Tromp, M., Out, W. A., & Portillo, M. (2016). Morphometric analysis of phytoliths: Recommendations towards standardization from the International Committee for Phytolith Morphometrics. Journal of Archaeological Science, 68, 106-111. doi: 10.1016/j.jas.2015.03.023

Chapter in Book - Research

Tromp, M., Dudgeon, J. V., Buckley, H. R., & Matisoo-Smith, E. A. (2016). Dental calculus and plant diet in Oceania. In M. Oxenham & H. Buckley (Eds.), Routledge handbook of bioarchaeology in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. (pp. 599-622). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

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Journal - Research Article

Maxwell, J. J., McCoy, M. D., Tromp, M., Hoffmann, A., & Barber, I. G. (2018). The difficult place of deserted coasts in archaeology: New archaeological research on Cooks Beach (Pukaki), Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand. Journal of Island & Coastal Archaeology, 13(1), 1-20. doi: 10.1080/15564894.2017.1285833

Tromp, M., Buckley, H., Geber, J., & Matisoo-Smith, E. (2017). EDTA decalcification of dental calculus as an alternate means of microparticle extraction from archaeological samples. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 14, 461-466. doi: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2017.06.035

Clark, A. L., King, C. L., Buckley, H. R., Collins, C. J., Dhavale, N., Elliott, G. E., Gosling, A., Halcrow, S. E., … Matisoo-Smith, E., … Tromp, M., Ward, S., & West, K. (2017). Biological anthropology in the indo-pacific region: New approaches to age-old questions. Journal of Indo-Pacific Archaeology, 41, 78-94.

Maxwell, J. J., & Tromp, M. (2016). Corynocarpus laevigatus: Where art thou? Finding evidence of this elusive tree crop. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 234, 198-210. doi: 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2016.09.009

Tromp, M., & Dudgeon, J. V. (2015). Differentiating dietary and non-dietary microfossils extracted from human dental calculus: The importance of sweet potato to ancient diet on Rapa Nui. Journal of Archaeological Science, 54, 54-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jas.2014.11.024

Dudgeon, J. V., & Tromp, M. (2014). Diet, geography and drinking water in Polynesia: Microfossil research from archaeological human dental calculus, Rapa Nui (Easter Island). International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 24(5), 634-648. doi: 10.1002/oa.2249

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Journal - Research Other

Ball, T. B., Davis, A., Evett, R. R., Ladwig, J. L., Tromp, M., Out, W. A., & Portillo, M. (2016). Morphometric analysis of phytoliths: Recommendations towards standardization from the International Committee for Phytolith Morphometrics. Journal of Archaeological Science, 68, 106-111. doi: 10.1016/j.jas.2015.03.023

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