Researchers at the University of Bristol have developed a new method for dating pottery sherds, as reported in the journal Nature. The team was able to isolate individual fat compounds from meat or milk that had been cooked in pottery vessels in antiquity and was still detectable within the pores of the cooking pots. Using high resolution nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and mass spectrometry technologies, the researchers were able to obtain fatty acids that were pure enough to date by carbon-14. They tested fat extracts from ancient pottery which had already been precisely dated using conventional means at sites in Britain, Europe, and Africa in order to determine that their new method was accurate. While ceramic typology will continue to be a primary method for dating pottery, the team from Bristol believe their new method of dating will provide another method to securely and accurately date sherds unearthed in excavations.