Identification of the earliest collagen- and plant-based coatings from Neolithic artefacts (Nahal Hemar cave, Israel)
van Dongen, Bart E.
Buckley, MichaelNote: Order does not necessarily reflect citation order of authors.
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CitationSolazzo, C., B. Courel, J. Connan, B. E. van Dongen, H. Barden, K. Penkman, S. Taylor, et al. 2016. “Identification of the earliest collagen- and plant-based coatings from Neolithic artefacts (Nahal Hemar cave, Israel).” Scientific Reports 6 (1): 31053. doi:10.1038/srep31053. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep31053.
AbstractMortuary practices in human evolution record cognitive, social changes and technological innovations. The Neolithic Revolution in the Levant was a watershed in this domain that has long fascinated the archaeological community. Plaster modelled skulls are well known at Jericho and several other Neolithic sites, and in Nahal Hemar cave (Israel, ca. 8200 −7300 cal. BC) excavations yielded six unique human skulls covered with a black organic coating applied in a net pattern evoking a headdress. This small cave was used as storage for paraphernalia in the semi-arid area of the Judean desert and the dry conditions preserved other artefacts such as baskets coated with a similar dark substance. While previous analysis had revealed the presence of amino acids consistent with a collagen signature, in the present report, specific biomarkers were characterised using combined proteomic and lipid approaches. Basket samples yielded collagen and blood proteins of bovine origin (Bos genus) and a large sequence coverage of a plant protein charybdin (Charybdis genus). The skull residue samples were dominated by benzoate and cinnamate derivatives and triterpenes consistent with a styrax-type resin (Styrax officinalis), thus providing the earliest known evidence of an odoriferous plant resin used in combination with an animal product.
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