Application of metabolomics to the analysis of ancient organic residues

Duffy, Kate I. (2015). Application of metabolomics to the analysis of ancient organic residues. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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The grape is arguably one of the oldest cultivated products in human history and the analysis of its main product, wine, reveals clues to trade and associations of previous civilizations. In ancient times, wine was stored in clay amphorae, which, if not properly sealed with resin or pitch allowed the wine to wick into clay matrices, dry, and polymerize producing insoluble, intractable materials that may remain within the matrix for several thousand years. Presently, identification of wine residue is based upon the extraction of these polymeric materials from the ceramic matrix and analyzing/identifying the chemical fingerprints.

Two main biomarkers have historically been employed for the identification of wine residue: tartaric and syringic acids. In some cases, the presence of one of these biomarkers has been designated as the confirmatory signature of wine often leading to false positives as amphorae were re-used in antiquity. Herein, a novel approach utilizing metabolomics has been applied to archaeological objects in order to further mine possible biomarkers for a more accurate assessment of the original foodstuff. An untargeted metabolic profiling method was combined with a targeted analytical method resulting in the successful validation of eight representative biomarkers in two separate archaeological sites.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Biosciences
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Q Science > QD Chemistry
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology


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