Proteins in Play: The Application of Ancient Proteins to the Study of Diet, Disease, Culture, and Evolution

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

The last few years have seen a growing interest in the application of protein analysis to archaeological materials, analogous to the application of DNA sequencing. This session will highlight the various contributions the study of ancient proteins can make to our understanding of the archaeological past. Despite the relative infancy of the field, we are currently witnessing a diversification in the types of tissues analyzed, time periods sampled and questions asked. Drawing on this diverse array of possibilities, this session aims to provide a platform to discuss methodological developments and trends, novel applications, and future directions.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-8 of 8)

  • Documents (8)

  • Ancient Hominin Bone Proteomes: Improving our Understanding of Past Human Behavior through the Study of Ancient Bone Proteins. (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Frido Welker. Jean-Jacques Hublin. Matthew Collins.

    The analysis of ancient proteins is increasingly used to study archaeological and anthropological bone specimens from prehistoric time periods. This ranges from large-scale ZooMS screening (Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry) of morphologically unidentifiable specimens to the targeted analysis of ancient bone proteomes from humans through the application of LC-MS/MS. Here, some biological and phylogenetic results that can be obtained through the analysis of ancient human bone proteomes will be...

  • Artifact Geographies of the Viking Age (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mariana Muñoz-Rodríguez. Steve Ashby. Lena Holmquist.

    The hair comb is one of the most commonly recovered bone artifacts from early medieval sites in Northern Europe, particularly in Viking-Age Scandinavia. Beyond the bone hair comb’s association with technological innovation, it acts as a powerful proxy for urbanism, human migration, and long-range trade in Viking-Age towns. Yet despite this prevalence, the bone hair comb remains understudied in recent years and few multi-site syntheses have been undertaken. Existing studies have focused on the...

  • From Biochemistry to Bone: Exploring the Stress Response in Archaeological Skeletal Remains (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Amy Scott. Matthew Collins.

    Bone is the foundation of the human body. In an archaeological context, the skeleton is the primary piece of evidence with which to explore past peoples and cultures. Because the skeleton adapts and changes over the life course, bone acts as a record-keeper, capturing specific periods of skeletal disturbance that we are able to observe and interpret. While the research potential using skeletal remains seems limitless, the primary challenge is that changes associated with poor health take time to...

  • A Method to Extract Collagen from Archaeological Leather for Species Identification with ZooMS (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Luke Spindler. Krista McGrath. Matthew Collins. Penelope Walton Rogers.

    Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS) is a rapid peptide fingerprinting technique capable of identifying species provenance in several archaeological materials of biological origin, and most commonly used on bone. Leather has proven resistant to analysis not only by ZooMS, but also to DNA extraction due to the tannins that are present in the material. We have used alkali (NaOH) to increase the solubility of the tannins and thereby extract them before enzyme digestion. This has allowed us...

  • Protein Modification in Fermented and Cooked Horse Milk: Taphonomic Implications for Archaeological Chemistry (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ashley Scott. Barney Venables. Steve Wolverton.

    Archaeological chemistry continues to expand by adopting taphonomic experimentation as a means to identify the effects of particular processes and conditions on the preservation of biomolecular remains. Analysis of ancient proteins through mass-spectrometry based proteomics requires that archaeological chemists observe and record protein modifications that occur related to processing and use behaviors. We conducted cooking and fermentation experiments using horse milk; we then assessed protein...

  • Proteomics for Silks: Identify and Distinguish B. mori and Other Species (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Boyoung Lee. Mark Pollard. Holger Kramer.

    Silk fibre generally known is made from a species called Bombyx mori, which was domesticated about 2,000 years ago in China. This is reared by human and the process is called sericulture. However there are other wild silk species that are not domesticated but still used in textile making. In an archaeological context, the proof of sericulture could be an index of the cultural and technological development of a location: it implies that there was a developed economy to import or produce silk—and...

  • Simple Non-Destructive Extraction of Biomolecules from Human Skeletal Remains (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Keri Rowsell. Matthew Collins.

    Opportunities for the biomolecular study of archaeological human skeletal remains (HSR) can often be limited by museum regulations that only permit non-destructive analyses. This restriction, coupled with the fairly common practice in England of quick reburial (due mainly to a lack of storage space), can result in a wealth of information being lost. It is therefore important that bioarchaeologists work to establish successful non-destructive methods for the biomolecular analysis of...

  • Taxonomic and Tissue Specific Dietary Proteins in Pottery Residues (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jessica Hendy. Andre Colonese. Matthew Collins. Oliver Craig. Eva Rosenstock.

    Ceramic vessels are abundant in the archaeological record as one of the surviving remnants of past food preparation and consumption. Organic residue anaysis has been widely applied to determine the use of ceramic vessels, with approaches typically focussing on the recovery of lipids. Here we present a novel method for extracting dietary proteins from pottery residues using LC-MS/MS and report the detection of tissue-specific dietary proteins down to the species level. Using this approach, we...