Integrating palaeoproteomics into the zooarchaeological analysis

of Palaeolithic bone assemblages

Understanding Palaeolithic hominin subsistence strategies requires the comprehensive taxonomic identification of faunal remains. However, Late Pleistocene faunal assemblages are often highly fragmented, preventing proper taxonomic identification based on bone morphology. The development of palaeoproteomic methods such as Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS) gives, for the first time, the opportunity to identify the biological markers preserved in previously undiagnostic bone remains.

This research project aims to combine the analyses of bone surface modifications with biomolecular analyses in order to provide fresh insights into past human behaviour in relation to fauna species selection and carcass processing. I explore the synthesis and analysis of comparable data for both the identifiable and morphologically unidentifiable portions of faunal assemblages from European sites spanning the arrival of Homo sapiens within territories occupied by the last Neanderthals.

The research is carried out at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Leipzig, Germany) and jointly supervised by Dr. Frido Welker (UCPH, Denmark), Dr. Geoff Smith (University of Kent, UK), and Prof. Jean-Jacques Hublin (MPI-EVA & College de France, Paris)