Palaeoproteomics on pottery

Early Stage Research Assistant: Miranda Evans


ESR4 will focus on the analysis of ancient protein residues on ceramics using mass spectrometry including:

(i) identification of the factors which impact the preservation of proteins in ceramics and ceramic residues.

(ii) developing/assessing methods to best analyse proteins in ceramics and their residues. Including experimental and archaeological case studies.

Expected results

To contribute an improved understanding of the impact of factors including taphonomy, food preparation practices and methods of analysis on protein preservation and recovery, and how these inform our interpretations of past foodways.

My project

In the context of cultural heritage cuisine is arguably one of the most intangible elements. Pottery vessels are abundant in the archaeological record as one of the most commonly surviving remnants of past food processing. Recently, the detection of food proteins preserved in both ceramics and residues adhering to them has been reported (Hendy, 2018), revealing evidence of past culinary practices with more detail than has been previously possible with other biomolecular techniques. ESR4 will be based at the Univeristy of York where, working with experts in the biomolecular analysis of ceramics, they will perform experiments on modern and archaeological materials to explore the survival of proteins in different ceramic tempers and residues, compare the preservation of proteins with other biomolecules (such as lipids) and explore the applicability of this methodology to other archaeological sites including case studies from Roman Britain and the Mediteranean.


Planned Secondment:

Secondment of 2 months at UCPH to be trained in analysis of PTMS and undertake lab work components.



At: University of York

Supervisor: Jessica Hendy