Ceramics: Organic Residue Analysis

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Organic residue analysis (ORA) is a ground-breaking field of archaeological research, addressing novel research questions and testing hypotheses on technological innovations, food processing, culinary practices, and social dynamics in the past. It has been applied to a wide range of archaeological remains, especially absorbed residues associated with prehistoric pottery vessels. The majority of organic residue studies have focused on lipids and ceramics, while proteins and other biomolecules such as metabolites tend to be under-represented. In this entry, we provide an overview of lipid analysis in the context of archaeological pottery, describing and discussing the formation processes, preservation pathways, extraction protocols and analytical strategies. We outline future perspectives for the study of preserved organic residues such as the direct radiocarbon dating of lipids and palaeoproteomics, facilitating cutting-edge research and filling lacunae in the literature.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Archaeology
EditorsThilo Rehren, Efthymia Nikita
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherAcademic Press
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9780323918565
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Absorbed residues
  • Archaeological pottery
  • Biomolecular archaeology
  • Gas chromatography
  • Lipids
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Organic residue analysis

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