Professor Matthew Collins FBA

Biomolecular archaeology; interdisciplinary approaches for the recovery and interpretation of molecular signals from ancient materials, with a specific focus on proteins and their breakdown products

Elected 2014

Fellow type
UK Fellow
Year elected

Matthew Collins was previously Professor of Archaeology at the University of York. He is the founder of BioArCh, a joint initiative between the Departments of Biology, Chemistry and Archaeology to further the use of biomolecular methods to tackle archaeological problems. His research focuses 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. In particular he is interested in developing technological solutions of direct practical application in the humanities. Using a combination of approaches (including immunology and protein mass spectrometry) his research detects and interprets protein remnants in archaeological and fossil remains. This includes using peptide fingerprinting to identify animal species in bones, manuscripts and other tissues, using protein mass spectroscopy to explore proteomes in ancient tissues, and to recovery dietary signals, and protein degradation as a tool to estimate the age of samples.

Current post

McDonald Professor in Palaeoproteomics, University of Cambridge


A chronological framework for the British Quaternary based on Bithynia opercula. Nature 2011, 476, 446–449

Animal origin of 13th-century uterine vellum revealed using noninvasive peptide fingerprinting.

Genomic signals of migration and continuity in Britain before the Anglo-Saxons Nature Communications 2016, 7, 10326

Ancient proteins resolve the evolutionary history of Darwin’s South American ungulates. Nature 522, 81–84 2015

Direct evidence of milk consumption from ancient human dental calculus. Scientific Reports, 4, 7104 2014

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