If the human uses of soils are profoundly different, can these use histories be deduced from their chemical traces? Using the potential of organic biomarkers, AnthroSOIL will assess spatial organisation of prehistoric dwellings in order to recognise daily life activities through soil organic matter analysis. At the interface of archaeology and chemistry, the project aims to develop a new methodological approach for the organic analysis of palaeosoils. State-of-the-art methods and cutting edge technology in organic residue analysis will be assessed and used to characterise and to map the organic content of soil (elemental analysis, PyGC & ultrafast-GC, LC-MS/MS, GC-MS/MS, GC-c-IRMS, MALDI imaging, ZooMS, starch analysis).The project will investigate activity patterns within Stonehenge World Heritage site by an extensive study of the Late Neolithic settlement of Durrington Walls a short-lived but large village probably inhabited by the builders of Stonehenge. Durrington Walls present a unique opportunity to examine activities across one of Europe’s finest and most well excavated prehistoric sites.
The project will benefit of a remarkable concentration of expertise at the University of York (UK), within BioArch, an inter-disciplinary research centre dedicated to work on biomolecular archaeology, an emerging European research strength. I will work in state-of-the art facilities with world-leading scientists in bioarchaeology for the joint development of archaeological soil studies. The broadening of my skills and perspectives through the combination of a broad range of analytical techniques in lipids, proteomic and stable isotopic to study prehistoric daily life, will place me in an excellent position to exploit new opportunities in biomolecular archaeology research and enhance my interdisciplinary career perspective.
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