Biomolecular and isotopic characterisation of lipid residues absorbed in Impressed Wares from the Early Neolithic village of Skorba, Malta

By: Cynthianne Debono Spiteri and Oliver Craig

Organic residue analysis (ORA) was used to characterise the lipid content of Impressed Ware vessels recovered from the Early Neolithic village of Skorba, Malta. ORA utilises both chromatographic and isotopic analytical techniques, and provides direct evidence for the function of ceramic vessels analysed. Lipid residues were interpreted against authentic reference fats of Mediterranean origin, and in light of the archaeological data available. The results showed that lipid yields were generally low, however direct evidence for the processing of an admixture comprising ruminant fat and marine oil was obtained in a vessel dated to the Early Neolithic period. This investigation also tests the feasibility of carrying out ORA on ceramic vessels recovered from Maltese archaeological contexts.

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