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The Taphonomy of Archaeological Molecular Biomarkers

Project Description

Molecular biomarkers have the potential to reveal archaeologically invisible aspects of the past. Biomarkers (specifically lipids) extracted from pottery have been related to food processing and consumption and have fed into big picture debates such as the origins and spread of dairying and the rise of the lactase persistence gene. While most of the work has been done using biomarkers in pottery, recent work has shown their potential to be preserved in other contexts such as sediments and hearths. This project would look at the preservation of archaeologically relevant biomarkers from different environments and contexts with a view to expanding the range of substrates targeted for future biomarker analysis. These would include sediments and residues from shipwrecks, lake sediments associated with settlements (e.g. swiss lake villages, hebridean crannogs etc) and cave sediments associated with human and Neanderthal occupation.

Funding Notes

You can apply for fully-funded studentships (stipend and fees) from INSPIRE if you:
Are a UK or EU national.
Have no restrictions on how long you can stay in the UK.
Have been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the project.

Please click View Website for more information on eligibility and how to apply


Historic England (2017) Organic Residue Analysis and Archaeology:
Peters, K.E., Walters, C.C. and Moldowan, J.M., 2007. The biomarker guide: Volume 1, Biomarkers and isotopes in the environment and human history. Cambridge university press.
Evershed, R.P., 2008. Organic residue analysis in archaeology: the archaeological biomarker revolution. Archaeometry, 50(6), pp.895-924.

How good is research at University of Southampton in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 68.62

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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