Professor Matthew Collins, from the Universities of York and Copenhagen, Enrico Cappellini & Peter Kjærgaard will present the Department of Archaeology seminar with a talk entitled "Future prospects for past proteins".
In the lecture we will discuss the developing scope of ancient proteins to explore questions in archaeology and palaeoanthropology. We will consider how our ability to recover information has advanced from the first discovery of amino acids preserved in Palaeozoic fossils more than 60 years ago, to the application of modern shotgun mass spectrometry to characterise complex proteomes. We will explain how, with each advance in technique, new ranges of questions have been opened up, from the use of amino acid racemization to date lithic assemblages, through the application of peptide mass fingerprinting (ZooMS) to identify bone fragments, protein sequences to resolve phylogeny, until now we can begin to explore the proteomes of archaic hominids and detect dietary proteins on teeth and pots. We will consider how we might use new insights to re-think how a Natural History museum can integrate the story of our past to increase our understanding of the world around us.