We are pleased to share the outcomes of our recent study, “Applying Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) and Elemental Imaging on Marine Shells for Archaeological and Environmental Research,” published in Nature’s Scientific Reports:
June and July this year got really busy with five guest researchers coming to Mainz and trying out their shells on our LIBS system. Rosa Arniz-Mateos and Mahsa Alidoostsalimi make a start and write about their results.
(Short-term and Extreme climates causing Agricultural risks at the FRontier Of the Neolithic Transition)
Welcome to the website of the SEAFRONT project, a research group awarded by the DFG under the Emmy-Noether programme for a six-year period, involving research collaborations between the Leibniz Zentrum für Archäologie (LEIZA) and archaeologists in Greece, Spain, Denmark, Australia, and France.
Our research is concerned with bridging the gap between temporal and spatial scales of climatic changes and human responses. The decisions of prehistoric individuals were often based on how they perceived their immediate environment and can thus only insufficiently be connected to remote climate archives on decadal- or centennial scales (e.g. marine cores or glacial records).
We are tackling this problem in the context of the Neolithic Dispersal across the Mediterranean, when pioneering farmers were advancing to new shores with a variety of success. Climatic conditions and the resulting agricultural risks are one part of this success, but differences in spatial and temporal resolution make their immediate impact intangible.
This project is using seasonally resolved climatic data from within archaeological layers in the form of mollusc shells, and is thus directly accessing local weather conditions that were observable by prehistoric populations.
Using Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy, we are aiming to analyse over 4,000 shells across 5 sites to provide robust climatic models from the bottom up and in stratigraphic context with other archaeological information.
The second phase of the project will be the 1st of February 2024 with new job applications published in advance.
For any question related to the project, please get in touch via email or twitter (see contact details below).
Niklas did his PhD at the University of York as part of Geoff Bailey's ERC Project DISPERSE, where he studied the mobility and subsistence strategies of coastal populations in the southern Red Sea. His research on the seasonal consumption of shellfish, which had led to the accumulation of over 3,000 shell middens on the Farasan Islands (Saudi Arabia), involved the analysis of oxygen isotope ratios to reconstruct past sea surface temperatures and to reveal seasons of mollusc collections.
This research led Niklas to move to Greece on a Marie Curie fellowship at the
Institute of Electronic Structure and Laser, where he led the
ACCELERATE Project. Within this project, he aimed to make the geochemical analysis of mollusc shells more efficient through the use of
Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS).
His research now involves shells from all over the world including the UK, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Malta, Tunisia, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Japan, the Philippines, Tasmania, New Zealand, the US, Canada, and Brazil, with shells from the modern period as well as over 30,000 years old.