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Organic Residue Analysis

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BioArCh, Environment Building
Wentworth Way, York
YO10 5NG, UK

Organic residue analysis is used to study organic materials deposited on archaeological artefacts during their use. A major research strand at BioArCh is lipid residue analysis of pottery, which we have applied to study the use of ceramic vessels from their very early origins in the Palaeolithic through to the post-Medieval period, encompassing projects on six continents from Central Russia to remote Island Oceania. Lipids are routinely analysed by High Temperature-Gas Chromatography (HT-GC), Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) and Gas Chromatography-Combustion-Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (GC-C-IRMS) using automated instrumentation within house. 

Facilities, Equipment and Instrumentation 

  • Dedicated room for the cutting, crushing and drilling of artefacts
  • Facilities for organic extraction in the archaeological chemistry laboratory
  • Gas Chromatogram FID (Agilent 7890A/FID).
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometer 1 (Agilent 7890A GC/FID/MSD)
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometer 2 (Agilent 7690A GC coupled to an Agilent 5975C MSD)
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometer 3 (Perkin Elmer Clarus 690 GC coupled to a SQ8-T Mass Spectrometer)
  • Gas Chromatography-Combustion-Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer 1 (Agilent 7890B GC coupled to an Agilent 5975C MSD and via a combustion unit (Isoprime GC5) to an Isoprime 100 IRMS.
  • Gas Chromatography-Combustion-Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer 2 (Thermo Delta V advantage coupled to a Thermo Trace 1310 GC and Thermo ISQ

Find out more about some of BioArCh's organic residue analysis research on the Early Pottery Research Group website