Alma Delgado

Doctorante – GReNES
Directeurs : Martine Regert, Xavier Fernandez
Date de début de thèse : 01/10/2015

Mots-clefs : Cultural Heritage, Neolithic, Middle ages, organic residues, biomarkers molecules, FTIR, GCMS, SEM, DI, adhesives, tar.

Sujet de thèse : Analytical and experimental approach for the characterization of Archaeological plant exudates and tars : Prehistory, Ethno-archaeology and Chemistry.


Among the materials that have been exploited since ancient periods, organic substances are probably the most challenging to study due to its partial or total alteration in consequence of its lengthy time underground. Issued from organic biomaterials such as resins, beeswax, animal fats or vegetal oils, they are preserved in low amount as amorphous organic residues and are often difficult to detect at the archaeological field. They give evidence for the use of animal, plant and fossil products that were of great importance for various aspects of human life, including diet, medicine, funerary rituals, as well as economic and technical activities. Because they lack recognizable morphological attributes, the only way to determine their nature and origin relies on the development of analytical strategies that allow elucidation of their chemical composition. These substances share common features in the field of archaeology and chemistry : they are made of complex molecular mixtures, they contain terpenoid components, which are often preserved at low amount. In some cases, these materials were mixed with various adjuvants such as beeswax, vegetal oils, animal fats, clay, and ochre, among others, that will also need to be considered for the characterization of the objects that belong to the Cultural Heritage. 
In this PhD project, we propose to focus our research on fresh and fossil plant exudates and tars that have been largely used since prehistory onwards in Europe. Concerning the study of fresh organic substances, ethnoarchaeological research has been carried out in collaboration with the ONGUENT project (Goudrons végétaux a usage médicinal en méditerranée : passes et présents. Burri, Sylvain/LA3M-Laboratoire d’Archéologie Médiévale et Moderne en Méditerranée (UMR7298 CNRS-AMU)) in order to identify and characterize the chemical composition and establishing the biomarkers of the ethnoarchaeological conifer tars from Cupressaceae (Juniperus oxycedrus, Juniperus thurifera, Taxus Baccata, Tetraclinis Articulata) obtained from antique techniques in the High Atlas, Morocco. By understanding the manufacturing methods of ethnoarcheological samples and to assess the different techniques employed in their production, we can able to create a reference data on contemporary materials.
On the other hand, archaeological samples have been analyzed from different sites between Europe and Asia in where the suitable analytical methodologies will be developed for the determination of molecular composition of archaeological samples which will be measured by means of FTIR, SEM, DI-MS, and GC-MS methods according the characteristics of the archaeological organic materials.


  • Delgado Robles A.A., Ruvalcaba Sil J.L., Claes P., Manrique Ortega M.D., Casanova González E., Maynez Rojas M.A., Cuevas García M., García Castillo S. "Non destructive in-situ spectroscopic analysis of greenstone found in royal burial offerings from the Mayan site of Palenque, Mexico". Heritage Science. 2015. 3:20.

  • Alma Angelina Delgado Robles, Jesús Fernández Reyes. "Ciencias 3 con énfasis en Química : Un viaje a través de la ciencia". Fernández Editores. México, 2014.

  • Sandra González-Gallardo, Vojtech Jancik, Alma A. Delgado-Robles, Mónica Moya-Cabrera. "Cyclic Alumosiloxanes and Alumosilicates : Exemplifying the Loewenstein Rule at the Molecular Level". Inorganic Chemistry, 2011. 4226-4228.


  • The 42nd International Symposium on Archaeometry (ISA 2018). Oral presentation : Analytical and experimental approach for the characterization of Archaeological plant exudates and tars: Prehistory, Ethno-archaeology and Chemistry. Merida, Yucatan. 2018

  • ONGUENT Project International workshop. Oral presentation : Ethnoarchaeology and Chemical characterization of wood tar production in the Atlas Mountains, Morocco. Rabat, Morocco. 2017.

  • Ethnoarchaeology on fire International workshop. Poster title : Ethnoarchaeology of wood tar production in the Atlas Mountains (Morocco) Part 2 : Analytical and experimental approach for the chemical characterization of ethnoarchaeological tars. Tenerife, Spain. 2017.

  • 6th Symposium of CONACyT in Europe. Poster title : Chemical characterization of archaeological plants and tars : Prehistory and Ethno-Archaeology. Strasbourg, France. 2017.

  • 5th Postgraduate Students congress. Poster title : The application of non-destructive in situ spectroscopic techniques for the characterization of archaeological Mesoamerican lithic. Mexico City. 2015.

  • 4th Latin American congress of Archaeometry. Oral presentation : The application of non-destructive in situ spectroscopic techniques for the characterization of Royal burial offerings lithic of Palenque, Chiapas. Mexico City. 2014.

  • Annual Meeting of the Mexican Geophysics Union. Oral presentation : The application of non-destructive in situ spectroscopic techniques for the characterization of Royal burial offerings lithic of Palenque, Chiapas. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. 2014.

  • 4th International Colloquium of Archaeometry. Poster title : A spectroscopic methodology for the study of Mesoamerican lithic. Mexico City. 2014.

  • 40th International Symposium on Archaeometry. The Getty Center and University of California. Poster title : Non-Destructive Analysis of Green Stone Royal Burial Offerings from the Maya Site of Palenque, Mexico. Los Angeles, USA 2014.

  • 4th Inorganic Chemistry Encounter. Poster title : Structural study of Gallium with -dicetiminates ligands coordinate compounds. Toluca, Mexico. 2009.

Cursus universitaires

  • 2015. Master’s Degree in Chemistry Science, with Honors. National Autonomous University of Mexico. Thesis dissertation : “Application of non-destructive in situ spectroscopic techniques for the characterization of archaeological Mesoamerican lithic". Supervisor : Dr. José Luis Ruvalcaba Sil.

  • 2011. Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. National Autonomous University of Mexico. Thesis dissertation : “Cyclic Alumosiloxanes and alumosilicates : Exemplifying the Lowenstein Rule at the molecular level”. Supervisor : Dra. Mónica Mercedes Moya Cabrera.

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