My study is orientated to the Early Pottery Use among Hunter-Gatherers around the Baltic, with the aim to contribute to a better understanding of the underlying factors that triggered the uptake of ceramics in the region. My way to tackle this archaeological problem and generate the necessary sets of data is to target the earliest pottery traditions and to analyze the organic residues left by the processed natural products, with a focus on the fatty (lipid) components. To identify the original sources, molecular and isotopic analytical methods are employed, namely, gas chromatography - mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and gas chromatography - combustion - isotope ratio mass spectrometry (GC-c-IRMS).
A selection from Stockholm University publication database
Extraction and derivatization of absorbed lipid residues from very small and very old samples of ceramic potsherds for molecular analysis by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and single compound stable carbon isotope analysis by gas chromatography-combustion-isotope ratio mass spectrometry (GC-C-IRMS)
2015. Vasiliki Papakosta (et al.). Microchemical journal (Print) 123, 196-200Article
Lipid residue analysis has become a common technique for the identification of the organic residues remaining from resources processed in archaeological ceramic vessels. However, recovery of lipids from the vessels can be problematic in cases of high age and/or very small sample amounts. Here we show that acid-catalyzed direct extraction and methylation offers an efficient way to obtain enough fatty acids for quantification and stable carbon isotope analysis. We compared this technique with the more conventional technique of ultrasonically aided solvent extraction followed by silylation, which gave no measurable yields. Both techniques were applied on the absorbed residues of six extremely small sample amounts of less than 0.1 g of ceramic powder each from the Sankakuyama I site, Kyushu, South Japan (~13,900-13,300 cal BP). They belong to one of the oldest so far reported pottery traditions in the world, the Japanese Incipient Jōmon. δ13C analysis of the identified target C16:0 and C18:0 fatty acids indicated that the examined vessels were used for food-processing purposes, pointing to a significant contribution of terrestrial animal sources in the residues.