Photo credits:
Danish Saroee

Ester Oras

Pro Futura Scientia Fellow, SCAS.
Associate Professor of Archaeology and Analytical Chemistry, University of Tartu

Ester Oras obtained her PhD degree in archaeology from the University of Cambridge in 2014. She
returned to her alma mater, the University of Tartu, as a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of
Chemistry to study ancient dietary practices through pottery lipid residue analysis. Since then Oras
has been affiliated with the Departments of Archaeology and Analytical Chemistry, serving as an
associate professor with research, teaching and supervision expertise at both institutes.

Oras is an interdisciplinary researcher who has dedicated her career to bridging the humanities and
natural sciences. She is the first specialised archaeochemist in the eastern Baltics, and she introduced
the field of organic residue analysis to the region. Her main field of research is the use of biomolecular
archaeology (lipids, proteins, isotopes) to study ancient diet, diseases and migrations, with a specialisation
in pre- and protohistory of the Baltic Sea region. Oras is the initiator and director of the Archemy lab at
the University of Tartu.               

Her publications include articles in leading international journals in both archaeology and analytical chemistry
covering the development of novel mass spectrometry methods for archaeological lipid residue analysis,
reconstruction of ancient foodways since the introduction of pottery in the eastern Baltics, and multi-
disciplinary analysis of Graeco-Roman Period mummies from Egypt.

As a Pro Futura Scientia Fellow, Ester Oras will study the arrival and spread of domesticated ruminants
in the eastern Baltics, to reveal the impact of novel dietary substances on the health of past populations.
Her project brings together archaeological material, anthropological sources and cutting-edge biomolecular
techniques combining lipidomics, proteomics and genomics to analyse archaeological pottery, human and
animal remains. Her study will provide insights into the function, character and impact of early domesticates
in the eastern Baltics, playing a central role in the development of our overall wellbeing, agricultural heritage,
and culinary traditions that still exist today.

This information is accurate as of the academic year 2024-25.