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Cholesterol degradation in archaeological pottery mediated by fired clay and fatty acid pro-oxidants

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to) 4401-4404
Number of pages4
JournalTetrahedron Letters
Issue number50
Early online date31 Oct 2018
DateAccepted/In press - 30 Oct 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 31 Oct 2018
DatePublished (current) - 12 Dec 2018


Cholesterol is generally absent in animal fat residues preserved in archaeological ceramic vessels. It is known from edible oil refining that during bleaching with activated clay sterols are degraded, largely via oxidation. Laboratory heating experiments using fired clay from replica pottery vessels promoted rapid degradation of cholesterol via oxidation. Furthermore, heating cholesterol with fatty acids (saturated and unsaturated) revealed additional degradation to occur independently of the ceramic matrix. As both conditions are met in archaeological pottery during animal (and plant) product processing involving heating, the very rare detection of sterols in organic residues can be explained.

    Research areas

  • cholesterol;, fatty acids, archaeology, degradation, clay, organic residue

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  • Full-text PDF (accepted author manuscript)

    Rights statement: This is the accepted author manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Elsevier at DOI: 10.1016/j.tetlet.2018.10.071. Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 437 KB, PDF document

    Licence: CC BY-NC-ND


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