The contents of ancient pottery could help archaeologists resolve some longstanding disputes in the world of antiquities, thanks to scientists at Britain's University of Bristol.
The researchers have developed the first direct method for dating pottery by examining animal fats preserved inside the ceramic walls.
"We're taking a piece of pot and grinding it to a powder, and then extracting lipid that's penetrated right down into the fabric." The researchers used a technique called preparative capillary gas chromatography to isolate the lipids, then they radiocarbon dated purified compounds with an accelerator mass spectrometer located at the Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit. In all cases, their results were in good agreement with the sample history.
The researchers hope to distinguish between a modern treatment and the original embalming agent.OI founder James Henry Breasted purchased the artifact, and many others, during his honeymoon trip to Egypt in 1894-95.An archaeologist must know the different between an artifact and a fossil. The method could eventually be used for a variety of other analyses.
"Potentially, you could date any other material that has preserved organic compounds," like pitches from wood products or collagen from bones, according to Evershed.
In earlier research, Evershed and his colleagues examined organic residues from pottery from Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age sites in Britain, and they found the first direct evidence that people were dairying as early as 6,000 years ago.