Amino Acid Racemisation-Based Chronology

ESR14 Fazeelah Munir

Buddha! A giant monument, in the center of Lahore, Pakistan Museum was my drawing subject at age 9. Art and archaeology always fascinates me and my interest further flourished by joining college’s History Society. My formal education and experience was in chemistry, specifically in Analytical Chemistry but I am always thrilled by its numerous applications in understanding past. During my M.Phil, I have learned to utilize various separation and characterization techniques such as cyclic and pulse voltammetry, GC-FID, GC-MS, LC-MS, NMR, FTIR and U.V spectroscopy. I have also learned to utilize various univariate and multivariate chemometric models. Cordial belongings to the area of Harrapa (Indus Valley Civilization) and been radically involved in activities for the promotion of archaeology from last seven years makes me enthusiastic about continuing my further studies in this domain, where I can apply my previous analytical expertise in solving ancient mysteries.

During my PhD, I will be working on in understanding the degradation pathways of enamel proteins with a specific focus on estimating the non-biological chiral form of amino acids by liquid chromatography and soft-ionisation protein mass spectrometry so a better insight on evolutionary and geochronological patterns could be conceived.

My PhD Project

Amino acid racemisation could be a powerful tool of dating, if suitable sample preparation and instrumental techniques are applied. One of its greater strength is its time depth and a range of sample substances. Ancient tooth from early hominin is an enormous sample substance for understanding different chronologies and human-environment relationship. Its dentine gives poor death Age vs racemization correlation because of highly ordered collagen, specifically restricts Asx racemization but enamel of the tooth is a powerful sample of interest as it is resistant to burial environment, contains low molecular weight peptides and is a better source of intracrystalline protein.

This protein; different sequence of amino acid, holds a great deal of information relevant to hominin/fauna-environment relationship and their evolutionary trends across ages. These magical endogenous amino acids are helpful in revealing the mysteries related to phylogeny, taxonomy and biogeographical changes. There is a shortage of chronological control due to various restrictions in dating deeper fossils.

During my PhD project, I will be focused on enamel sample dating by considering its various degradation patterns (Phosphorylation, Terminal hydrolysis, Deamidation and Oxidative degradation etc) of amino acids present within. We will try to explore possibilities of finding best chronology out of enamel protein for mammalian and try to understand Africa’s hominin/fauna and climate relationships.

Planned secondments

Secondment period of 4 months, during PhD year 2, at University of Bordeaux under Caroline Tokarski’s supervision to integrate amino acid racemization data (AAR) with proteomic results performed on the same samples to compare dating results and patterns of ancient protein damage.



Junior Research Fellow at Spectrometry and Analytical Lab, International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences, University of Karachi, Pakistan.


MPhil Degree, International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences, University of Karachi, Pakistan

Thesis: "Differentiation of Lard from other oils and fats based on the chemical and chemometric analysis in commercial products"


Bachelor’s Degree, Government Post Graduate College Sahiwal, Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan, Pakistan


Fazeelah MUNIR, Syed Ghulam MUSHARRAF, Muhammad Iqbal BHANGER. Turkish Journal of Chemistry, doi 10.3906/kim-1902-17. Detection of lard contamination in five different edible oils by FT-IRspectroscopy using a partial least squares calibration model

Host Institution

University of York 🇬🇧