8th Experimental Archaeology Conference abstract – Altoft et al

Integrating experimental archaeology in organic residue analysis of pottery

David T. Altoft, Yastami Nishida, Karine Taché & Oliver E. Craig

Department of Archaeology, University of York, The King’s Manor, York, YO1 7EP, UK

This paper presents results from extensive organic residue analysis of replica Incipient Jōmon pottery that has informed recently published research (Craig et al. 2013) on one of the world’s earliest innovations of pottery in Japan (Jordan and Zvelebil 2009). A large collection of modern terrestrial and aquatic animal species from across the Japanese archipelago was collected and experimentally cooked in the replica Jōmon pottery in Japan and the resulting food residues absorbed into the matrix of the pottery were extracted and identified at the University of York. The isotopic composition of fatty acids and other lipid biomarkers (Evershed 2008) from the lipid residues acted as a reference dataset to aid the identification of residues from foods in archaeological Incipient Jōmon pottery. In addition, the dataset was used to determine the best procedures of experimental cooking and organic residue analysis for the identification of food residues absorbed in pottery. The application of experimental archaeology has greatly benefitted this important research; however, similar applications of experimental archaeology have been rarely made in other organic residue analyses of pottery (Evershed et al. 2008). The authors hope that this paper will demonstrate the benefits of integrating experimental archaeology in organic residue analysis of pottery.

Craig, O.E., Saul, H., Lucquin, A., Nishida, Y., Taché, K., Clarke, L., Altoft, D.T., Uchiyama, J., Ajimoto, M., Gibbs, K., Isaksson, S., Heron, C.P. and Jordan, P. (2013) ‘Earliest evidence for the use of pottery’. Nature. 496 (7445)

Evershed, R.P. (2008) ‘Organic residue analysis in archaeology: The archaeological biomarker revolution’. Archaeometry. 50 (6). 895-924

Evershed, R.P., Copley. M.S., Dickson, L. and Hensel, F.A. (2008) ‘Experimental evidence for the processing of marine animal products and other commodities containing polyunsaturated fatty acids in pottery vessels’. Archaeometry. 50 (1). 101-113

Jordan, P. and Zvelebil, M. (2009) Ceramics Before Farming: The Dispersal of Pottery Among Prehistoric Eurasian Hunter-Gatherers. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press


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