Ancient proteins from ceramic vessels at Çatalhöyük West reveal the hidden cuisine of early farmers

Jessica Ruth Hendy, Andre Carlo Colonese, Ingmar Franz, Ricardo Fernandes, Roman Fischer, David Clive Orton, Alexandre Jules Andre Lucquin, Luke Spindler, Jana Anvari, Elizabeth Stroud, Peter Biehl, Camilla Filomena Speller, Nicole Boivin, Meaghan Mackie, Rosa Rakownikow Jersie-Christensen, Jesper V Olsen, Matthew James Collins, Oliver Edward Craig, Eva Rosenstock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The analysis of lipids (fats, oils and waxes) absorbed within archaeological pottery has revolutionized the study of past dietary diets and culinary practices. However, this technique can lack taxonomic and tissue specificity and is often unable to disentangle signatures resulting from the mixing of different food products. Here, we extract ancient proteins from ceramic vessels from the West Mound of the key early farming site of Çatalhöyük in Anatolia, revealing that this community processed mixes of cereals, pulses, dairy and meat products, and that particular vessels may have been reserved for specialized foods (e.g., cow milk and milk whey). Moreover, we demonstrate that dietary proteins can persist on archaeological artefacts for at least 8000 years, and that this approach can reveal past culinary practices with more taxonomic and tissue-specific clarity than has been possible with previous bio-molecular techniques.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4064 (2018)
Number of pages10
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2018.


  • Adiposity
  • Animals
  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Ceramics/chemistry
  • Cooking
  • Dairying
  • Diet
  • Edible Grain/chemistry
  • Fabaceae/chemistry
  • Farmers
  • Geography
  • Humans
  • Proteins/analysis
  • Ruminants
  • Turkey

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