Bone collagen from Herculaneum and Pompeii

ESR5: Bone collagen from Herculaneum and Pompeii. (@ UoN)

It is still an open question whether deamidation of glutamine (Q) and asparagine (N) could be used as a dating technique in ancient samples, but it is widely accepted that deamidation can be considered as a biomolecular marker of deterioration and natural aging of proteins in artistic and archaeological materials 10 . Detection of deamidation can offer interesting prospects in the evaluation of the conservation state of work of arts and archaeological remains. However, deamidation is a delicate modification, since it is strongly influenced by several parameters such as pH and temperature. Deamidation is also a delicate modification from a purely technical point of view, since it induces a mass shift of only 0.98 Da, and deamidation can occur also as a by-product of sample preparation. This modification will be explored as specific signature of the conservation state of collagens from bones from Herculaneum and Pompeii (that although arising from the same catastrophic event have experienced different burial conditions). The work will beneficiate of the interaction with the anthropologist Dr. Pierpaolo Petrone (University of Naples, Federico II) and the professional restorer (Dr. Giancarlo Fatigati) collaborating with the Museo Archeologico di Napoli (MAN), to widen the technical approaches to samples. Methodological development will allow proper quantification of deamidation levels and identification of unexpected modifications that can be used as molecular signatures of deterioration/aging15 .

Networking. Within TEMPERA, ESR 5 will interact more closely with:

  1. ESR 4: ESR5 will spend a secondment period of 4-5 months in UoY to share and compare experience on ancient protein degradation with Prof. Matthew Collins and ESR 4.
  2. ESR 1: ESR5 will spend a secondment period of 3-4 months in UoL (co-supervision), to compare analytical procedures.