Petrous bone diagenesis: a multi-analytical approach

Ioannis Kontopoulos*, Kirsty Penkman, Graeme D. McAllister, Niels Lynnerup, Peter B. Damgaard, Henrik B. Hansen, Morten E. Allentoft, Matthew J. Collins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The discovery of petrous bone as an excellent repository for ancient biomolecules has been a turning point in biomolecular archaeology, especially in aDNA research, but excessive and uncontrolled sampling could result in loss of this valuable resource for future research. This study reports on the histological (optical microscopy), physical (FTIR-ATR), elemental (CHN) and biochemical (collagen and DNA analysis) preservation of 15 human petrous bones spanning from the c. 2100 BCE to 1850 CE. Through the combined application of a number of diagenetic parameters (general histological index; infrared splitting factor; carbonate/phosphate ratio; amide/phosphate ratio; col wt%; % C, % N and C/N of whole bone and collagen; % endogenous DNA), we provide new insights into petrous bone micromorphological characteristics and diagenesis, and new evidence to enhance screening practices for aDNA and collagen analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-154
Number of pages12
JournalPalaeogeography palaeoclimatology palaeoecology
Early online date8 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.


  • aDNA
  • Bioapatite
  • Collagen
  • Diagenesis
  • Microstructure
  • Petrous bone

Cite this