Matthew James Collins

Matthew James Collins
University of Copenhagen · The Globe

Bachelor of Science Zoology with Marine Zoology

About

500
Publications
143,390
Reads
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18,961
Citations
Additional affiliations
September 2016 - present
University of Copenhagen
Position
  • Professor
October 2003 - present
The University of York
September 2003 - present
The University of York
Position
  • Professor of Biomolecular Archaeology
Education
October 1982 - August 1986
University of Glasgow
Field of study
  • PhD
October 1979 - July 1982
Bangor University
Field of study
  • Zoology

Publications

Publications (500)
Article
Full-text available
Fur is known from contemporary written sources to have been a key commodity in the Viking Age. Nevertheless, the fur trade has been notoriously difficult to study archaeologically as fur rarely survives in the archaeological record. In Denmark, fur finds are rare and fur in clothing has been limited to a few reports and not recorded systematically....
Article
Full-text available
This study compares histological preservation in archaeological bones from different burial types to unravel the histotaphonomy‐to‐funerary practices relationship. Αn intra‐skeletal approach is also adopted to explore intra‐individual (inner ear part of the petrous bone vs upper/lower limb long bones) and intra‐bone (proximal vs distal diaphysis) v...
Article
Full-text available
Mollusc shells represent excellent systems for the preservation and retrieval of genuine biomolecules from archaeological or palaeontological samples. As a consequence, the post-mortem breakdown of intracrystalline mollusc shell proteins has been extensively investigated, particularly with regard to its potential use as a “molecular clock” for geoc...
Article
Full-text available
The origins, prevalence and nature of dairying have been long debated by archaeologists. Within the last decade, new advances in high-resolution mass spectrometry have allowed for the direct detection of milk proteins from archaeological remains, including ceramic residues, dental calculus, and preserved dairy products. Proteins recovered from arch...
Article
Full-text available
We used palaeoproteomics and peptide mass fingerprinting to obtain secure species identifications of key specimens of early domesticated fauna from South Africa, dating to ca. 2000 BP. It can be difficult to distinguish fragmentary remains of early domesticates (sheep) from similar-sized local wild bovids (grey duiker, grey rhebok, springbok—southe...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper, we describe palaeoproteomic evidence obtained from a stained medieval birth girdle using a previously developed dry non-invasive sampling technique. The parchment birth girdle studied (Wellcome Collection Western MS. 632) was made in England in the late fifteenth century and was thought to be used by pregnant women while giving birth...
Article
Full-text available
The degradation of archaeological bones is influenced by many variables. The bone material itself is a composite of both organic and inorganic components, and their degradation depends on processes occurring both before and after burial, and on both intrinsic bone characteristics as well as extrinsic environmental parameters. In this study we attem...
Article
Full-text available
Bacteria play an important role in the degradation of bone material. However, much remains to be learnt about the structure of their communities in degrading bone, and how the deposi-tional environment influences their diversity throughout the exposure period. We genetically profiled the bacterial community in an experimental series of pig bone fra...
Article
Full-text available
The extensive peat bogs of Southern Scandinavia have yielded rich Mesolithic archaeological assemblages, with one of the most iconic artefacts being the bone point. Although great in number they remain understudied. Here we present a combined investigation of the typology, protein-based species composition, and absolute chronology of Maglemosian bo...
Poster
Full-text available
Rates of peptide bond hydrolysis and other diagenetic reactions are not favourable for Mesozoic protein survival. Proteins hydrolyse into peptide fragments and free amino acids that, in open systems such as bone, can leach from the specimen and be further degraded. However, closed systems are more likely to retain degradation products derived from...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract We report a simple histological study on skin biopsies from young domestic sheep following each step in transformation from skin to parchment production. During the recreation of historical parchment manufacture, histological analyses were conducted; before and after lime treatment, hair removal, and stretching. Sections were fixed and sta...
Book
The Vienna Genesis: Material analysis and conservation of a Late Antique illuminated manuscript on purple parchment Abstract The Vienna Genesis (Austrian National Library, Codex Theologicus graecus 31) is a fragmentary Greek manuscript of the Book of Genesis written on purple dyed parchment with silver ink. It is assumed that the book was created i...
Article
Full-text available
The recovery and analysis of ancient DNA and protein from archaeological bone is time-consuming and expensive to carry out, while it involves the partial or complete destruction of valuable or rare specimens. The fields of palaeogenetic and palaeoproteomic research would benefit greatly from techniques that can assess the molecular quality prior to...
Preprint
Full-text available
Rates of peptide bond hydrolysis and other diagenetic reactions are not favourable for Mesozoic protein survival. Proteins hydrolyse into peptide fragments and free amino acids that, in open systems such as bone, can leach from the specimen and be further degraded. However, closed systems are more likely to retain degradation products derived from...
Article
Full-text available
Technological innovations such as next generation sequencing and DNA hybridisation enrichment have resulted in multi-fold increases in both the quantity of ancient DNA sequence data and the time depth for DNA retrieval. To date, over 30 ancient genomes have been sequenced, moving from 0.7x coverage (mammoth) in 2008 to more than 50x coverage (Neand...
Preprint
Full-text available
We report a simple histological study on skin biopsies from young domestic sheep following each step in transformation from skin to parchment production. Histological analyses were conducted; before and after lime treatment, hair removal, and stretching. Sections were fixed and stained using a variety of histological stains to identify the presence...
Preprint
Full-text available
We report a simple histological study on skin biopsies from young domestic sheep following each step in transformation from skin to parchment production. During the recreation of historical parchment manufacture, histological analyses were conducted; before and after lime treatment, hair removal, and stretching. Sections were fixed and stained usin...
Article
Full-text available
Motivation: Classification of archaeological animal samples is commonly achieved via manual examination of MALDI-ToF spectra. This is a time-consuming process which requires significant training and which does not produce a measure of confidence in the classification. We present a new, automated method for arriving at a classification of a MALDI-T...
Article
We investigated the rate at which endogenous DNA from differently prepared (butchered, boiled and baked) compact pig bones degrades in five different Danish terrestrial and marine environments over a period of 12 months. Although >70% of the estimated endogenous mtDNA is lost after just four weeks of exposure, no cytosine deamination of DNA was obs...
Article
Full-text available
Contamination is a potential problem in the study of ancient proteins, either from prior handling of the sample, laboratory consumables, or cross-sample carryover from mass spectrometers. Recently, deamidation of glutamine has been proposed as a measure for assessing the degradation of ancient proteins. Here, we present deamiDATE 1.0, a method for...
Preprint
Full-text available
Extraction of environmental DNA from sediments are providing ground-breaking views of the past ecosystems and biodiversity. Despite this rich source of information, we do not yet know much about which sediments favour preservation and why. Here we used atomic force microscopy and molecular dynamics simulations to explore the DNA-mineral binding in...
Article
Full-text available
We present the analysis of an osseous finger ring from a predominantly early Neolithic context in Denmark. To characterize the artefact and identify the raw material used for its manufacture, we performed micro-computed tomography scanning, zooarchaeology by mass spectrometry (ZooMS) peptide mass fingerprinting, as well as protein sequencing by liq...
Conference Paper
Scythian archers are invariably depicted carrying a quiver in ancient iconography and the ancient Greek historian Herodotus wrote of Scythian archers flaying the right arms of their dead enemies and using the skin to cover their quivers, yet little is known about the construction and materials of Scythian quivers. The survival of numerous fragments...
Article
Full-text available
There has long been debate over the origins of dairy consumption within European populations. Whilst it was previously assumed that lactase persistence (LP) was under positive selection following the advent of agriculture, recent genetic studies of prehistoric human remains have revealed LP may have only emerged in Europe in the last 4000 years. Th...
Article
Full-text available
This paper presents the characteristics of bone diagenesis in a secondary commingled Mycenaean burial in Kastrouli (Phocis, Greece) through the histological (light microscopy), physical (FTIR-ATR), and biochemical (collagen) analysis of seventeen human (including two petrous bones) and seven animal bones. Post-mortem modifications in bone microstru...
Article
Genome-wide analysis of 67 ancient Near Eastern cattle, Bos taurus, remains reveals regional variation that has since been obscured by admixture in modern populations. Comparisons of genomes of early domestic cattle to their aurochs progenitors identify diverse origins with separate introgressions of wild stock. A later region-wide Bronze Age shift...
Article
Full-text available
Biocodicology, the study of the biological information stored in manuscripts, offers the possibility of interrogating manuscripts in novel ways. Exploring the biological data associated to parchment documents will add a deeper level of understanding and interpretation to these invaluable objects, revealing information about book production, livesto...
Article
Full-text available
Ancient protein analysis is a rapidly developing field of research. Proteins ranging in age from the Quaternary to Jurassic are being used to answer questions about phylogeny, evolution, and extinction. However, these analyses are sometimes contentious, and focus primarily on large vertebrates in sedimentary fossilisation environments; there are fe...
Article
Full-text available
Rationale: Although mass spectrometry is routinely used to determine deamination in peptide mixtures, the effects of ionisation source choice have not yet been investigated. In particular, matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation (MALDI) has become a popular tool with which to measure levels of glutamine deamidation in ancient proteins. Here we...
Article
During the European Middle Ages, the opening of long-distance Asian trade routes introduced exotic goods, including ultramarine, a brilliant blue pigment produced from lapis lazuli stone mined only in Afghanistan. Rare and as expensive as gold, this pigment transformed the European color palette, but little is known about its early trade or use. He...
Article
Genome-wide analysis of 67 ancient Near Eastern cattle, Bos taurus, remains reveals regional variation that has since been obscured by admixture in modern populations. Comparisons of genomes of early domestic cattle to their aurochs progenitors identify diverse origins with separate introgressions of wild stock. A later region-wide Bronze Age shift...
Article
Full-text available
The analysis of lipids (fats, oils and waxes) absorbed within archaeological pottery has revolutionized the study of past diets and culinary practices. However, this technique can lack taxonomic and tissue specificity and is often unable to disentangle signatures resulting from the mixing of different food products. Here, we extract ancient protein...
Article
Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy using attenuated total reflection (ATR) is commonly used for the examination of bone. During sample preparation bone is commonly ground, changing the particle size distribution. Although previous studies have examined changes in crystallinity caused by the intensity of grinding using FTIR, the effect o...
Article
Full-text available
Ancient starch research illuminates aspects of human ecology and economic botany that drove human evolution and cultural complexity over time, with a special emphasis on past technology, diet, health, and adaptation to changing environments and socio-economic systems. However, lapses in prevailing starch research demonstrate the exaggerated expecta...
Article
Full-text available
Archaeological dental calculus has emerged as a rich source of ancient biomolecules, including proteins. Previous analyses of proteins extracted from ancient dental calculus revealed the presence of the dietary milk protein β-lactoglobulin, providing direct evidence of dairy consumption in the archaeological record. However, the potential for calcu...