EURHOPE: Evaluate the precision of time in Human Evolution adopting spectrometric methods for archaeological bones

FARE [2022-2025]


Bones are a sort of living memory from which it is possible to obtain multiple information on the life of ancient populations: what they ate, their reproductive habits, the diseases that devastated their bodies and the migrations they undertook. The sum of natural, biological and cultural events that have occurred over time is essential for understanding and explaining the changes we are experiencing as individuals and as a species. The backbone of chronological reconstructions back to 55,000 years ago is the radiocarbon (14C) "clock". However, sampling for 14C dating is a destructive process and going back in time human fossils and bone artifacts are not only increasingly rare and valuable, but diagenetic alteration of collagen is increasingly prominent. This involves the destruction of large amounts of bone (≥ 500mg) to extract enough collagen for conventional 14C AMS (accelerator mass spectrometry) dating methods. Furthermore, many of these precious bones are too small and/or extremely beautiful, so it is of fundamental importance to limit the amount of sample to be removed as much as possible. The EURHOPE project will detect the presence of collagen in bones in a non-destructive way, identifying suitable areas for sampling and minimizing its damage, using state-of-the-art spectrometric methods.

Team leader

Prof. Sahra Talamo