Residue Analysis

Oliver E. Craig, Hayley Saul, Cynthianne Spiteri

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Residue analysis, as used in archaeology, is a generic term used to describe the characterisation of traces of organic products from the past. This chapter is concerned with organic residues that are commonly encountered bound to, adhered to or absorbed within a mineral artefact, such as a ceramic vessel or a stone tool. Methods of analysis are varied and range from microscopic identification of remnant tissue fragments to chemical and structural analysis of the major classes of biomolecules, such as lipids, proteins and DNA. This chapter aims to provide the reader with a broad overview of the composition of residues associated with artefacts, their formation and preservation, the principal methods of analysis and to demonstrate the impact that this field has made for understanding the use of artefacts in the past. For more detailed overviews of the occurrence and analysis of specific biomolecules in archaeology, readers are directed to Evershed et al. (2001), Evershed (2008a) and Pollard and Heron (2008) for lipids; Hendy et al. (2001), Pollard and Heron (2008), Colombini and Modugno (2009) and Regert (2011) also provide a comprehensive description of lipid residue analysis of artefacts.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationArchaeological Science
Subtitle of host publicationAn Introduction
EditorsMichael P. Richards, Kate Britton
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9781139013826
ISBN (Print)9780521144124
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Michael P. Richards and Kate Britton 2020.

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