Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Anthropology (Forensic Anthropology Option)

Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Chair

Meradeth Snow

Commitee Members

Anna Prentis, Chris Palmer


DNA, Ceramic Vessels, Biological and Physical Anthropology


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Biological and Physical Anthropology


Ceramic vessels are a durable material found in abundance throughout the archaeological record. Organic residue analysis has been used to study ceramic vessels utilizing lipid analysis and protein analysis. Lipids and proteins analysis provide limited information at the genus level, leaving out valuable information that species-specific results can tell us such as unique genetic and environmental information. Lipids and proteins analysis provide limited information at the genus and taxonomic levels leading to issues of misclassification of species. If only certain animals or plants of a genus are being used, then unique genetic and environmental information found only at the species level cannot be determined, such as the geographical region of the animal or plant. Studies of DNA analysis on durable archaeological material have been limited to stone tools analysis, using 5%Ammonium hydroxide and PB buffer protocols developed by Shank et al. (2001) for DNA retrieval. There are no current publications on DNA analysis of ceramic vessels.

In this research of DNA extraction using the 5%Ammonium hydroxide and guanidine hydrochloride protocols developed by Shank et al. (2001) for DNA retrieval was used to test 11 archaeological ceramic shards and 16 experimental ceramics shards that were either used to store or cook foodstuff. This paper explores the possibility of DNA extraction and amplification from ceramic shards using the protocols developed by Shanks et al. (2001).

While some DNA was amplified and sequenced from archeological samples, the source of the DNA was due to human and bacterial contamination. No DNA was successfully amplified from the experimental samples. The overall results show that DNA extraction and amplification using the methods developed by Shanks et al. (2001) do not work on ceramic vessels.



© Copyright 2019 Britney J. Radford