The biomolecular characterization of a finger ring contextually dated to the emergence of the Early Neolithic from Syltholm, Denmark.
We present the analysis of an osseous finger ring from a predominantly early Neolithic context in Denmark. To characterize the artefact and identify the raw material used for its manufacture, we performed micro-computed tomography scanning, zooarchaeology by mass spectrometry (ZooMS) peptide mass fingerprinting, as well as protein sequencing by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). We conclude that the ring was made from long bone or antler due to the presence of osteons (Haversian canals). Subsequent ZooMS analysis of collagen I and II indicated that it was made from Alces alces or Cervus elaphus material. We then used LC-MS/MS analysis to refine our species identification, confirming that the ring was made from Cervus elaphus, and to examine the rest of the proteome. This study demonstrates the potential of ancient proteomics for species identification of prehistoric artefacts made from osseous material.