The Project (2011)

There are two Hermenias, the Greater and the Less (.) The country is indeed a passing great one, and in the summer it is frequented by the whole host of the Tartars of the Levant, because it then furnishes them with such excellent pasture for their cattle. But in winter the cold is past all bounds, so in that season they quit this country and go to a warmer region.And you must know that it is in this country of Armenia that the Ark of Noah exists on the top of a certain great mountain. The country is bounded on the south by a kingdom called Mosul, the people of which are Jacobite and Nestorian Christians, of whom I shall have more to tell you presently.
Marco Polo, Il Milione

Science and science communication along the Marco Polo trail

2011-armeniacrimea In August and October 2011 the group of scientists, journalists and media representatives who participated in MarcoPolo2010 will travel through Armenia and the Crimea to continue collecting data alongthe Silk Road.

Just as they did on the previous expedition in 2010, the travellers will meet representatives from the Terra Madre communities and collect DNA samples toexplore the links between genetics, food preference and culinary traditions.

Research topics

MarcoPolo2011 (again like MarcoPolo 2010) will study the taste perceptions of the Terra Madre communities and compare the results with the data on their culinary traditions, alongside data on the prevalence of common pathologies such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension.

2011-lorenzo_ATpix Researchers obtain these data through a series of quite simple tests:

  • bitterness and saltiness taste tests;
  • a questionnaire about their dietary preferences;
  • a sense of smell test;
  • a colour test;
  • an audiometric test to measure hearing;
  • a brief general questionnaire on their general state of health and lifestyle choices;
  • a collection of saliva samples – from which we can extract DNA, so that a genetic analysis of the population can be carried out.

The local communities along the way play an active role in all the activities of the project thanks to the Terra Madre network.


Science for everyone

Again, likeMarcopolo2010, the whole enterprise (from design, to expedition, to data analysis) will take place entirely in the public eye.

Tamara_Areshian In this way, important scientific research will become, in addition, an interactive and fascinating science communication project.

Before, during and after the expedition, a team of experts in science communication (writers, journalists, museum experts, photographers, directors and cameramen, multimedia developers, etc.) will work closely with scientists in order to prepare avideo of the expedition, materials for further exhibitions and events, activities with local participants etc., and to ensure a comprehensive and accurate media coverage of the entire project and its contents.


Communication and popularisation initiatives

The journey, the topics and the research methods are used for popularisation initiatives at various levels:

  • Participative website with the blog of the expedition
  • TV programmes: on specialised and entertainment channels
  • Scientific and photo reports
  • Series of books for different audiences and on various topics
  • Great travelling, interactive and multimedia exhibition



  • Institute for Maternal and Child Health IRCCS BurloGarofolo, Trieste
  • Sissa Medialab, Trieste
  • Terra Madre
  • Department of Medical Science, University of Trieste