The absolute dating of objects and archaeological sites is nowadays resource which is increasing its accessibility for the archaeological community. The analytical techniques more used are the 14C and the techniques of luminescence, both have tested their effectiveness in many cases in a wide range of ages, from hundreds to thousands of years.
The first works carried out by the laboratory were devoted to the chronological characterization of coastal deposits. At the same time, we develop methodologies for the analysis of archaeological samples, addressing mainly toward the validation of the methodology using samples of which we known the age (analysis of materials in the medieval Hercules Tower) and the results comparison with others laboratories with recognized competence in the archaeological dating (intercalibration of procedures with the laboratory of the Technology and Nuclear Institute from Portugal).
- Datings by luminescence of archaeological or sedimentary materials.
- Datings by cosmogenic nuclides.
Main researcher: Jorge Sanjurjo Sánchez
The Institute will carry out, in collaboration with others government agencies or private companies that demand their collaboration, counselling activities and issuing opinions on different areas:
- Communication way's (geotechnical reports).
- Foundations (bridges, dams, etc.).
- Slopes and landslides (slopes's dynamics).
- Internal origin risks (earthquakes).
- External origin risks (floods, erosion, etc.).
- Natural or induced erosion prevention in coastal areas.
- Flooding effects prevention.
- Metallic mineral deposit's evaluation and dimensioning.
- Quarries and sand evaluation and dimensioning.
- Hydrogeological studies.
- Banks restoration studies.
- Beaches restoration studies.
- Mining operations (metallic and aggregates) restoration studies.
- Location of original materials used in buildings of historical and artistic heritage.
Main researcher: Juan Ramón Vidal Romaní
- (Paleo)dietary studies using stable isotopes (δ15N, δ13C).
Stable isotopes analysis of carbon and nitrogen in bone collagen are used in archeology to expand the spectrum of information that the human and animals remains can provide. These values are related to the diet type and habitat, and allows us to better understand the way of life in the analyzed communities. The technique is based on the different stable isotopes existence that are found in nature in certain proportions according to the compartment under study. The transition from one compartment to another carries a variation in this proportion is called isotopic fractionation. The animal bone collagen is a large protein whose function is confer to the bone elasticity and resistance. Depending on the context in which it is found the fossil, collagen can endure with few alterations for several thousands of years. As a protein, collagen recorded the isotope values from the power supply and the corresponding fractionation that occurs during the nutrients assimilation and the own collagen synthesis. You can also apply this study in other proteins, as keratin that form the hair and nails, or other animal tissues. The technique involves the purification of collagen, quality control and isotope values (d15N, d13C) obtained by mass spectrometry of isotope ratios (EMRI), in addition to an interpretative report. Other options are the isotope determination in bone or dental apatite (δ13C y δ18O), or studies of geographical origin through Strontium isotopes.
Applications: Dental and skeletal remains from archaeological or palaeontological contexts, samples of current fauna (hair, nails, muscle , etc.).
- Species identification from the peptide mass fingerprinting (ZooMS).
Although all animals depart from a single common ancestor, different classes, orders or families are separating over time, acquiring distinguishing features that arise from variations in their DNA. Because of this, the bone collagen, despite being quite similar in all animals, also has some differences in the amino acid sequences. These differences are the ones who will allow the taxonomic identification of an individual from its bone collagen. The collagen is digested with a protease enzyme that breaks specifically at certain points in the amino acids chain, producing a set of different sized peptides that are scanned by mass spectrometry MALDI-TOF (Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization). This provides a profile in which some of these peptides are characteristic of a particular taxon, being able to identify at level of family, genus or to species. The service, which can be done in a coordinated manner with the isotopic study, consists in the identification by MALDI-TOF of the bone collagen peptide mass fingerprinting and an interpretative report.
Applications: Skeletal remains difficult to identify in archaeological contexts, other types of debris (for example: bone's fragments included in carnivorous feces).
- Ancient DNA.
Main researcher: Aurora Grandal d'Anglade
- Archaeological and heritage studies.
- Historical and archaeological heritage putting in value studies.
Main researcher: Juan Luís Montero Fenollós