Margaret Serpico is an Egyptologist with research interests in the ancient Egyptian use of natural products, particularly products such as resins, bitumen, oils, fats and beeswax. This research includes investigations into the production and use of these commodities as well as their potential religious and socio-economic significance.
She is particularly interested in multi-disciplinary approaches to the study of these commodities involving archaeobotany and experimental archaeology as well as working in collaboration with archaeological scientists focusing on the botanical identification and source locations of these commodities. Amongst her current research are projects involving the study of organic residues, particularly imported incense, at the ancient Egyptian site of Amarna, comprising study of the composition of resinous products, their use, storage and transport to the site in imported Canaanite amphorae; the identification of organic residues found in imported storage jars dating to the Old Kingdom; and an investigation of the composition and use of ancient Egyptian ritual unguents applied to mummies, coffins and other funerary objects from the Middle Kingdom to the Ptolemaic Period.
As part of the Medjehu Project, she is currently studying the evidence of sacred resin varnishes and other ritual mixtures on coffins and other grave goods. This includes microscopic study to determine the presence of these substances and the ways in which they were applied to the objects. This research will hopefully provide new insight into the extent to which the people of Deir el-Medina had access to valuable imported organic products.