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Department of Archaeology



I conduct research on the persistence of proteins in ancient samples, using modelling to explore the racemization of amino acids and thermal history to predict the survival of DNA and other molecules. Using a combination of approaches (including immunology and protein mass spectrometry) my research detects and interprets protein remnants in archaeological and fossil remains.

With former PhD student Dr Mike Buckley I developed ZooMS (Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry) a way to rapidly identify bone and other collagen based materials using peptide mass fingerprinting.



The application of acient proteins to archaeology

Analysis of protein evolution and decay


I am presently involved in the following research projects in:

2016-2021 Niels Bohr Professor of Palaeoproteomics: University of Copenhagen: To establish new research capacity in plaeoprotemics in Denmark

2019 - 2024 Beasts to Craft:  Parchment as a biological archive

 Also visit:

Teaching and Supervisions


Current students:

  • Jiri Vnoucek, Parchment Craft and Conservation (York)
  • Keri Rowsell, Post medieval health (York)
  • Ioannis Kontopoulos, Bone diagenesis (York)
  • Theis Jensen, Materiality of bone points (York/Copenhagen)
  • Abigail Lowe, Modelling for Museology (York)
  • Talari Gopai, MALDI- machine learning (York)
  • Carla de Soto Parchment decay and conservation (with Devro)
  • Erin M Keenan Early ZooMS of N. American Fauna (Texas)

​Past students:

  • Andrew Spooner 1992 Industry Environment
  • Ben Stern 1993 Senior Lecturer Bradford
  • Emman Waite 1997 Industry Bioscience
  • Dave Robertson 1998 Industry Petroleum
  • Oliver Craig 1998 Professor York
  • Colin Smith 2000 Senior Lecturer, LaTrobe, University
  • Jen Hiller 2001   Industry
  • Miranda Jans 2001 Forensics (US Military)
  • Kirsty Penkman 2001 Senior Lecturer York
  • Rebecca Griffin 2002 Administration Canberra
  • Hannah Koon 2003 Lecturer Bradford
  • Simon McGrory 2006 Project Officer (Heritage)
  • Rose Drew 2004 Osteoarchaeology
  • Mike Buckley 2010 Royal Society Research Professor, Manchester
  • Nienke Van Doorn 2012 Industry York Archaeological Trust
  • Isabella von Holstein 2012 PDRA, Amsterdam
  • Jo Powell 2013 Industry
  • Marc Wadsley 2013 Bioinformatics NHS
  • Yang Yue 2013 Industry Environment
  • Frido Welker 2017 PDRA Copenhagen
  • Jessica Hendy 2017 Group Leader, MPI Jena
  • Sean Doherty, 2016, Industry, Opinion
Research supervision: 

I currently supervise students investigating in a range of topics related to the use of proteins to address archaeological research questions from evolution, to diet, disease, demography and chronology.  I am interested in supervising students with a passion to work across disciplines who wish to study for an MPhil or a PhD in the following topics:

  • Modelling the survival and decay of ancient proteins
  • Mathematical approaches to the analysis of complex datasets
  • Developing low cost tools for demography
  • Developing novel methods to extract and analyse ancient proteins
  • Applying ancient protein analysis to their archaeological repertoire

Other Professional Activities

Fellow of the British Academy

Niels Bohr Professor in Palaeoproteomics, University of Copenhagen

Job Titles

McDonald Professor in Palaeoproteomics
Matthew Collins

General Info

Available for consultancy
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Material Culture
Biomolecular Archaeology

Contact Details

Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge


Person keywords: 
Ancient Proteins
Archaeological Science
Science, Technology and Innovation
Material Culture
Human Evolutionary Studies
Geographical areas: 
Southeast Asia
Periods of interest: 
Other Historical