Democratisation of ZooMS: Jena lab protocols published

One of the biggest challenges we faced at the onset of the project in 2016-17 was the lack of transparency in terms of the nitty gritty of ZooMS, the actual analytical protocols, from the wet chemistry laboratory procedures, to equipment settings, data analyses and full data deposition (both reference data as well as analysed unknown samples). I used to jokingly call the method “the best kept secret in archaeological science”.

In FINDER, to ensure that our workflow and results were not only as transparent as possible, but also reproducible and fully accessible by any interested party, we committed early on to work towards the “democratisation” of ZooMS.

The first step towards this was to test and publicise in a free and accessible format our analytical protocols. In a series of publications, the 3 main wet chemistry protocols we use at the ZooMS/Palaeoproteomics laboratories of the MPI-SHH were described and deposited in In more detail:

  • The AmBic protocol can be used on samples where destructive analysis cannot be undertaken or where collagen preservation is particularly good hence matrix demineralisation is not necessary. 

Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS) for bone material – AmBiC protocol

  • Two acid based protocols are slight variations of a more destructive approach in which the samples are pretreated with hydrocholric acid to demineralize the bone matrix and release inter- and intra-crystalline collagen.

Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS) for bone material – Acid insoluble protocol

Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS) for bone material – Acid soluble protocol

In a different publication in the Journal of Proteomics we test the aforementioned protocols on 400 archaeological bones from different parts of the world. This allowed us to compare how each protocol works depending on collagen preservation.

ZooMS methods comparison


The full reference and publication can be found here:

Wang, N., Brown, S., Ditchfield, P., Hebestreit, S., Kozilikin, M., Luu, S., Oshan, W., Grimaldi, S., Chazan, M., Horwitz Kolska, L., Spriggs, M. Summerhayes, Gl, Shunkov, M., Korzow Richter, K., Douka, K., Testing the efficacy and comparability of ZooMS protocols on archaeological bone. Journal of Proteomics