Distinguishing between archaeological sheep and goat bones using a single collagen peptide

Mike Buckley, Sarah Whitcher Kansa, Sarah Howard, Stuart Campbell, Jane Thomas-Oates, Matthew Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We describe a method of isolating and analyzing a single collagen peptide able to distinguish between sheep and goat bone collagen. The 33 amino acid peptide from both sheep and goat collagen was sequenced and shown to differ between the two species at two positions. Analysis of a range of caprines indicated that the sequence changes occurred between the divergence of the Himalayan tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus) and the ibex (Capra ibex) and that the proposed goat marker is diagnostic of all Capra species and breeds. The survival of these markers in archaeological bones was tested using a set of 26 ovicaprid specimens from Domuztepe, a Neolithic site in south central Turkey. These markers were used to test the osteological determination of 24 of the Domuztepe bones, and determine the species for two immature specimens. The collagen-peptide method has advantages over other non-morphological methods of sheep/goat distinction because of the long-term survival of collagen over other biomolecules such as ancient DNA. The results also highlighted the problems in relying upon one morphological criterion, in this case on the distal radius, to distinguish between sheep and goat bones. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-20
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010


  • Archaeological proteomics
  • Biomolecular archaeology
  • Collagen
  • Domuztepe
  • Goat
  • Sheep
  • Species identification


Dive into the research topics of 'Distinguishing between archaeological sheep and goat bones using a single collagen peptide'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this