University of Cambridge > > Pitt-Rivers Archaeological Science Seminar Series > New developments in compound specific analysis of ancient biomolecules in archaeology

New developments in compound specific analysis of ancient biomolecules in archaeology

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Over the last few decades, mass spectrometry, used for stable isotope analyses and radiocarbon dating, has been evolving very rapidly towards more robust, faster, precise and accurate instrumentation. Such improvement is however pointless if we fail to also improve the preparation of the samples to be measured because contamination, even if present at trace level, can affect the data produced and lead to erroneous interpretations. More precise results can be achieved when radiocarbon dating or measuring isotopic values of specific molecules (e.g. specific amino acids, fatty acids or alkanes) instead of bulk materials but instrumentation to do so on a routine basis is not yet widely available in the environmental and archaeological sciences. The time required to prepare samples and the costs of the solvents are two other bottlenecks in the process that need to be addressed. This paper will present new methodologies recently developed at the University of Oxford for compound specific analysis of ancient biomolecules. These will be illustrated by several case studies.

This talk is part of the Pitt-Rivers Archaeological Science Seminar Series series.

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