Out of the Fog: Applying biomolecular methods to explore the south Scandinavian Stone Age

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch

The present thesis is composed of three projects, which share the theme of using minimally destructive state-of-the-art scientific methods to study objects from the Early Mesolithic and the transition to the Neolithic in Southern Scandinavia. Firstly, Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS), protein sequencing by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) and direct accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dating were used to interrogate barbed bone points. The results reveal that these iconic artefacts can be used as proxies for species utilisation and availability. Significantly, a radiocarbon hiatus at 10.2 ka was discovered which implies a depeopling event occurred. The second project focuses on very rare osseous finger ring. Direct dating of 70 proximal finds from the site places the ring at the cusp of the Neolithic. ZooMS and LC-MS/MS revealed that the ring is made from red deer (Cervus elaphus), and the generated proteome may give an indication of the skeletal element from which it was made. The last study utilises a novel finds category (masticated birch pitch) as a new source of ancient human DNA. Shotgun sequencing generated an entire human genome (2.3x) of the person who chewed the pitch. Interesting, she showed genetic affinity to Western Hunter-Gatherers and not Neolithic farmers. Additionally, Metagenomics allowed the investigation of her oral microbiome, latent viral diseases anddiet.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherDepartment of Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen
Publication statusPublished - 2019

ID: 237414517