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An integrated approach to the taxonomic identification of prehistoric shell ornaments.

Demarchi B, O'Connor S, de Lima Ponzoni A, de Almeida Rocha Ponzoni R, Sheridan A, Penkman K, Hancock Y, Wilson J - PLoS ONE (2014)

Bottom Line: Their integration with non-destructive techniques provides a valuable and affordable tool, which can be used by archaeologists and museum curators to gain insight into early exploitation of natural resources by humans.Here we combine amino acid analyses, macro- and microstructural observations (by light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy) and Raman spectroscopy to try to identify the raw material used for beads discovered at the Early Bronze Age site of Great Cornard (UK).Our results show that at least two shell taxa were used and we hypothesise that these were sourced locally.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: BioArCh, Department of Archaeology, University of York, York, United Kingdom.

ABSTRACT
Shell beads appear to have been one of the earliest examples of personal adornments. Marine shells identified far from the shore evidence long-distance transport and imply networks of exchange and negotiation. However, worked beads lose taxonomic clues to identification, and this may be compounded by taphonomic alteration. Consequently, the significance of this key early artefact may be underestimated. We report the use of bulk amino acid composition of the stable intra-crystalline proteins preserved in shell biominerals and the application of pattern recognition methods to a large dataset (777 samples) to demonstrate that taxonomic identification can be achieved at genus level. Amino acid analyses are fast (<2 hours per sample) and micro-destructive (sample size <2 mg). Their integration with non-destructive techniques provides a valuable and affordable tool, which can be used by archaeologists and museum curators to gain insight into early exploitation of natural resources by humans. Here we combine amino acid analyses, macro- and microstructural observations (by light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy) and Raman spectroscopy to try to identify the raw material used for beads discovered at the Early Bronze Age site of Great Cornard (UK). Our results show that at least two shell taxa were used and we hypothesise that these were sourced locally.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

PCA scores plots showing examples closest to the beads.Scores plots from principal components analysis showing only examples from genera with scores closest to the beads. Bead 3870 can be seen, clustered with Unio and Antalis examples on the left of the plots. Although Pecten examples overlap with Nucella and the other beads in the scores plot for the first two principal components (a), separation can be seen along the third component (b).
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pone-0099839-g007: PCA scores plots showing examples closest to the beads.Scores plots from principal components analysis showing only examples from genera with scores closest to the beads. Bead 3870 can be seen, clustered with Unio and Antalis examples on the left of the plots. Although Pecten examples overlap with Nucella and the other beads in the scores plot for the first two principal components (a), separation can be seen along the third component (b).

Mentions: As an application, we investigated the possible molluscan taxa (among those represented in our dataset) that might have been used as the raw material for the shell beads found at the site of Great Cornard. Principal components analysis revealed clusters in the amino acid data and the scores plots in Figure 7 include only the genera with the highest levels of similarity to the Great Cornard beads. The plots show:


An integrated approach to the taxonomic identification of prehistoric shell ornaments.

Demarchi B, O'Connor S, de Lima Ponzoni A, de Almeida Rocha Ponzoni R, Sheridan A, Penkman K, Hancock Y, Wilson J - PLoS ONE (2014)

PCA scores plots showing examples closest to the beads.Scores plots from principal components analysis showing only examples from genera with scores closest to the beads. Bead 3870 can be seen, clustered with Unio and Antalis examples on the left of the plots. Although Pecten examples overlap with Nucella and the other beads in the scores plot for the first two principal components (a), separation can be seen along the third component (b).
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4061022&req=5

pone-0099839-g007: PCA scores plots showing examples closest to the beads.Scores plots from principal components analysis showing only examples from genera with scores closest to the beads. Bead 3870 can be seen, clustered with Unio and Antalis examples on the left of the plots. Although Pecten examples overlap with Nucella and the other beads in the scores plot for the first two principal components (a), separation can be seen along the third component (b).
Mentions: As an application, we investigated the possible molluscan taxa (among those represented in our dataset) that might have been used as the raw material for the shell beads found at the site of Great Cornard. Principal components analysis revealed clusters in the amino acid data and the scores plots in Figure 7 include only the genera with the highest levels of similarity to the Great Cornard beads. The plots show:

Bottom Line: Their integration with non-destructive techniques provides a valuable and affordable tool, which can be used by archaeologists and museum curators to gain insight into early exploitation of natural resources by humans.Here we combine amino acid analyses, macro- and microstructural observations (by light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy) and Raman spectroscopy to try to identify the raw material used for beads discovered at the Early Bronze Age site of Great Cornard (UK).Our results show that at least two shell taxa were used and we hypothesise that these were sourced locally.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: BioArCh, Department of Archaeology, University of York, York, United Kingdom.

ABSTRACT
Shell beads appear to have been one of the earliest examples of personal adornments. Marine shells identified far from the shore evidence long-distance transport and imply networks of exchange and negotiation. However, worked beads lose taxonomic clues to identification, and this may be compounded by taphonomic alteration. Consequently, the significance of this key early artefact may be underestimated. We report the use of bulk amino acid composition of the stable intra-crystalline proteins preserved in shell biominerals and the application of pattern recognition methods to a large dataset (777 samples) to demonstrate that taxonomic identification can be achieved at genus level. Amino acid analyses are fast (<2 hours per sample) and micro-destructive (sample size <2 mg). Their integration with non-destructive techniques provides a valuable and affordable tool, which can be used by archaeologists and museum curators to gain insight into early exploitation of natural resources by humans. Here we combine amino acid analyses, macro- and microstructural observations (by light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy) and Raman spectroscopy to try to identify the raw material used for beads discovered at the Early Bronze Age site of Great Cornard (UK). Our results show that at least two shell taxa were used and we hypothesise that these were sourced locally.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus