Everyone knows the story of the Trojan horse. The Greeks, in a war against the Trojans, hid some soldiers inside a giant wooden horse and left it outside the city of Troy. Thinking that they’d won, the Trojans dragged the horse inside the city walls. Later that night, the Greek soldiers crept out and sacked Troy from the inside, winning the war.
Our story this month is also set in ancient Troy, and has a few things in common with this mythical tale. There’s no great battle, but there is death. And instead of soldiers hiding inside a wooden horse, it involves some unexpected microbes hiding inside the chest of a woman who died 800 years ago.
We spoke to Caitlin Pepperell from the University of Wisconsin–Madison about her research into this woman’s story, and the remarkable molecular portrait of her life and death that scientists were able to piece together.
You can read the original paper behind this research here.