John Stewart, University of York
I spend my time trying to design methods by which we can make a bit more sense of eggshell in the archaeological record. Eggshell is very common at archaeological sites, but is currently under-used as an archaeological resource. This is because it is extremely difficult (and time consuming) to identify it taxonomically. I use a combination of highly sensitive MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry, current bioinformatic techniques and a novel extraction procedure to identify proteins contained within eggshell. These survive for a very long time (we’re not sure exactly how long yet), and differ enough between taxa to allow identification. The main advantages of the new identification system are that it is rapid, reliable, and can analyse a huge number of eggshell fragments in a relatively short period.