Dr. Shidong Chen – thesis on the organic residue analysis

Shidong Chen, successfully defended his PhD dissertation entitled “Unravelling prehistoric plant exploitation in eastern Baltic: organic residue analysis of plant-based materials by multi-method approach” on the 12th of September. We were honored to have Dr. Shinya Shoda from Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Japan as Shidong’s opponent.

From left to right: opponent Dr. Shinya Shoda, Dr. Shidong Chen, supervisors Dr. Ester Oras and Prof. Ivo Leito

Shidong’s PhD work is aimed at discovering plant exploitation in the ancient eastern Baltic area with a focus on two types of plant-derived materials: resinous materials and dietary plants. The main innovations are developing multi-methodological approaches and interpreting multi-proxy datasets with chemometric and statistical methods.

For identifying the composition of resinous adhesives, ATR-FT-IR analysis was conducted in combination with a PCA-based DA classification model for further compositional and spatial/temporal classification. This method can help simplify IR spectra interpretation and reduce the need for GC-MS analysis.

For identifying dietary plants, a multi-method approach was applied by plant micro fossil analysis and EA-IRMS combined with ORA. EA-IRMS can provide preliminary origins of samples with plant and/or animal bases. Plant micro fossil analysis and ORA in complementary can identify the species of plant remains. Correspondence analysis further compares and indicates the agreement of the three methods and visualizes the correlations between the multi-proxy data.

Dr. Shidong Chen moments before the presentation

The plant exploitation in prehistoric easter Baltic shows different patterns with dedicated multi-method case studies on several Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age sites. In the Stone Age, plant exploitation was more technological (adhesives and resinous compounds) than dietary-related. The plant consumption for dietary purposes became more abundant in the Bronze Age. The major changes happened with the Iron Age displaying a more diverse plant-based diet with more inclusion of C3 cereals (e.g., wheat and barley), yet the spread and cultivation of C4 millet may not have emerged in this region.

Shidong is currently working at ARCHEMY lab as a lab technician at the University of Tartu. He will continue his journey discovering ancient food ways from pots and bones.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.