New paper published today in Journal of Archaeological Science with colleagues from the University of Bristol: A call for caution in the analysis of lipids and other small biomolecules from archaeological contexts

In this paper we look at the major pitfalls and misconceptions around organic residue analysis of archaeological lipids from published literature and papers received as reviewers, discuss the specific issues and provide guidance to novices to the field.


Dr. Emma Loftus (LMU Munich) is visiting the lab this week to learn the ropes of lipid analysis. Great having you with us. You can read all about her fantastic MSCA research project here:


Pamela Thales (Molecular Science) has started her Master thesis. Welcome Pamela!


Maria Luiza Molin has joined the group as a student research assistant at the beginning of the month. Welcome Malu!



Anne Zartmann and Evi Kämpfle have started their final theses (Wissenschaftliche Abschlussarbeit) to complete their food chemistry degrees. Welcome Anne and Evi!




New co-authored paper led by Dr. Melanie Miller (University of Otago, NZ/University of Berkeley, USA), Dr. Helen Whelton (University of Bristol, UK) and Dr. Jillian Switft (Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, USA) has been just been published in Scientific Reports: Interpreting ancient food practices: stable isotope and molecular analyses of visible and absorbed residues from a year-long cooking experiment.

In this paper, the results from a year-long cooking experiment are reported: Seven researchers cooked mixtures of wheat, maize and venison once a week in unglazed pottery and collected three different types of residues with archaeological significance along the way: Burnt-on crusts, the thin patina and ceramic powder for absorbed residue. At the end of the year the recipes were changed and final samples were collected. By molecular and isotopic (δ13C, δ15N) profiling we could show how the different residues track the chemical signals of the cooking ingredients differently and with different time lag.

More info can be found in this press release.


New paper led by colleagues from Sheffield and Cardiff has been published in PLOS ONE: “The dietary impact of the Norman Conquest: A multiproxy archaeological investigation of Oxford, UK”

Here, isotopic analysis (δ13C, δ15N), of human and animal remains, palaeopathological analysis of human skeletal remains and the analysis of preserved lipid residues in ceramic sherds were combined to paint a picture about the wider impact of the 11th century Norman Invasion on people’s lives and diets.

More info can also be found in this press release by Cardiff University




New paper published in PNAS: “Mechanisms of lipid preservation in archaeological clay ceramics revealed by mass spectrometry imaging”


In this paper we used Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) for the direct analysis of lipid residues in archaeological ceramics to understand how lipids are taken up into these ceramics and how they can be preserved over millennia.

More background on the paper can be found in this “Behind the paper” blog piece: