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Lipid Residue Analysis

  • Mary E. Malainey
Chapter
Part of the Manuals in Archaeological Method, Theory and Technique book series (MATT)

Abstract

Lipids are a broad category of compounds that are insoluble in water (Chapter 5); those of archaeological interest include fatty acids, triacylglycerols, sterols, waxes, and terpenes. Rottländer (1990) noted that lipid analysis is suitable for the study of vessel contents because they are present in virtually all human food, they have a relatively high stability with increased temperature (up to 400°C), and their decomposition from cooking temperatures is minimal, compared to carbohydrates and proteins. Over the last four decades, different instrumental techniques have been used to obtain information about archaeological lipid residues. The most commonly employed involve component separation with gas chromatography: gas chromatography with a flame ionization detector (GC), gas chromatography with mass spectrometry (GC/MS), and, recently, gas chromatography-combustion-isotope ratio analysis (GC-C-IRMS). Researchers in the United Kingdom have made extraordinary advances in the recognition of biomarkers able to provide precise identifications of archaeological residues over the last 20 years (Evershed 1993a, 2000, 2008a, b; Heron and Evershed 1993; Evershed et al. 1992, 2001). The compilation edited by Barnard and Eerkens (2007) includes examples of the use of both biomarkers and criteria based on fatty acid composition to identify lipid residues.

Keywords

Fatty Acid Composition Fatty Acid Ratio Alkanoic Acid Stable Carbon Isotope Analysis Lipid Residue 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary E. Malainey
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyBrandon UniversityBrandonCanada

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