Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS) and rethinking a definition of NISP

Author(s): Michael Buckley

Year: 2017


Biomolecular methods can vastly improve the confidence in species determination of animal bone in a manner that, unlike traditional morphology-based methods, is not subject to the skills of the analyst. Until recently these have largely focussed on ancient DNA-based approaches, and so have been at costs too great to become widely used for most archaeofaunal assemblages despite being available for more than thirty years. However, within the last decade I have pioneered the development of a low-cost biomolecular method of species identification based on using soft-ionization mass spectrometry to fingerprint enzymatic digests of collagen – the most abundant protein in bone. Termed ‘ZooMS’ (for Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry), appropriate given the speed at which objective identifications can be made with this approach, this approach in recent years has been applied to thousands of bone fragments in some cases. However, it remains unclear to what extent we can utilise such large-scale approaches beyond improving our understanding of the presence or absence of particular taxa. This presentation considers the advantages of ZooMS, including its temporal ranges across the planet and taxonomic resolution but more importantly its limitations, particularly in light of how to accommodate such highly enhanced NISP counts in archaeofaunal analyses.

Cite this Record

Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS) and rethinking a definition of NISP. Michael Buckley. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430373)

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14957