“So if I have a database of vibrations of a large number of molecules, I can select those that are of interest to me and I can compare it to known samples” (Dr Linda Prinsloo)
“Everything is made out of molecules, and so we can get a profile of the molecular identity of the things that we will find on the stone tools. It might help us understand what the hobbits ate, how they lived.” (Dr Susan Luong)
“So, for instance, if someone were cutting meat with a tool, we would hope to find some remnants of bone, fatty acids, something like cholesterol on the artefact. While if they were working with plants, we would expect to find some cellulose, or ligand, or the ingredients of plant materials on the tools”. (Dr Linda Prinsloo)
Conversation starterThe work of archaeochemists requires a sterile environment, but an archaeological site is far from sterile (see 3.11 Contamination: Refining Methods). In light of this, consider the following questions:
- How do processes of degradation and contamination affect the work of archaeochemists?
- What can be done to minimise these effects?
Homo Floresiensis Uncovered: The Science of ‘the Hobbit’
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