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Publication - Dr Lucy Cramp

    From the inside out

    Upscaling organic residue analyses of archaeological ceramics


    Roffet-Salque, M, Dunne, J, Altoft, D, Casanova, E, Cramp, L, Smyth, J, Whelton, H & Evershed, R, 2017, ‘From the inside out: Upscaling organic residue analyses of archaeological ceramics’. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, vol 16., pp. 627-640


    Investigations of organic residues associated with archaeological pottery using modern analytical chemical methods began in the 1970s. There was early recognition that the analysis of lipids (i.e. fats, waxes and resins) preserved in
    surface residues or the fabric of single pottery sherds, representative of single vessels, was a powerful method for defining pottery use at higher specificity. Subsequent developments saw a significant change of scale with studies usually
    involving lipid analyses of tens to hundreds of sherds per archaeological assemblage, providing information which extends beyond pottery use. The identification of animal and plant foodstuffs processed in pots lends insights into herding and farming; while trade in exotic organic goods can also be detected. Information about environment and climate can be derived from the isotopic composition of compounds detected in sherds, providing potentially novel avenues of investigation. The direct dating of lipids in pottery sherds is opening up new opportunities for building archaeological chronologies. The integration of lipid residue analyses with other environmental and cultural proxies in interdisciplinary projects is already providing unprecedented insights into past lifestyles from site to regional scales.

    Full details in the University publications repository