Lipid Residue Analysis

Under Lipid Residue Analysis, the presence of certain molecules or the presence and distribution of certain types of lipid provide information about the source of a residue. Lipids are compounds that are insoluble in water.

Key Points

  • In this process, the absorbed residues are crushed and extracted. The recovered lipids are then converted to fatty acid methyl esters by a process called ‘transesterification’.
  • After this, the analysis of the product will give insight into the source of the residue.

Lipid residues in pottery from the Indus Civilization in northwest India

  • Recently a study titled “Lipid residues in pottery from the Indus Civilization in northwest India” was conducted in the Harappan sites of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Using the Lipid Residue Analysis in the ceramic potteries of the settlements, animal products like the meat of buffalo, pigs, cattle, goats, and sheep along with dairy products were found dominantly.
  • As per the study, out of domestic animals, the most abundant ones were buffalo/cattle (on average 50%-60% animal bones found) and sheep/goats accounted for 10% of the animal residues.
  • This higher proportion of cattle/buffalo suggests a preference for beef across Indus Civilizations.
  • According to the study, 90% of cattle in Harappa were kept alive till the age of 3 and 3.5 years. This suggested that female cattle were used for dairy production and male cattle for traction.
  • As per the study, some wild animals were also a part of the Indus diet. A small proportion of animals like gazelle, deer, hares, birds, antelope, and marine resources.
  • The study found evidence for birds and hares been eaten but they found less evidence for chicken in the Indus diet.

How the study was conducted?

The study was conducted on 172 pottery fragments that were recovered from the 5 villages from UP and Haryana namely Alamgirpur (UP), Masudpur (Haryana), Lohari Ragho (Hisar), Khanak (Haryana) – as well as Farmana town (Rohtak district) and Rakhigarhi city (Hisar).

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