Last Publication PJVP

Panadès I Blas, Xavier, Roland Baddeley & John Fennell. 2021. Testing the Utility of Gaussian Mixture Models in Parataxonomic Classification of Fossil Eggs. – Palarch’s Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology 17(3) (2021).

Fossil eggs and eggshells are very seldom associated with skeletal or dermal remains and can rarely be assigned taxonomically. This has resulted in oologists creating an alternative classification system for fossil eggs and eggshells: the parataxonomy of fossil eggs. Under parataxonomy, fossil eggs are classified in oospecies, oogenera and oofamilies according to qualitative microstructural characters (e.g. shape of the shell units and ornamentation) and highly heritable quantitative characters (e.g. height of unit, HU, and width of unit, WU). Megaloolithus oospecies is an egg type previously partially attributed to both titanosaurian and hadrosaurid dinosaurs. These oospecies are defined by the shape of their units and the quantification of the morphometric variation and variability of their microstructures (HU and WU of eggshell units). Two competing interpretations of the observed morphological variation of the eggshell units have been proposed: 1) different megaloolithic morphologies are indicative of different dinosaur species; and 2) the same dinosaur species was responsible for all the variation seen in megaloolithic eggshell units. In this study, a Gaussian mixture model was applied to test both interpretations. This probabilistic model assumes all the data points are generated from a mixture of a finite number of Gaussian distributions with unknown parameters. We compared the morphometric distributions of HU and WU in eggshells, eggs and clutches belonging to six Megaloolithus oospecies from Catalonia to the defined morphometric variation seen in the eggshell microstructures of two extant turtle species and two crocodile species. The resulting Gaussian model was best defined for four distributions of HU and WU representing the extant turtle and crocodile oospecies, and three distributions consisting of one or more Megaloolithus oospecies. It was inferred that Megaloolithus oospecies from the Late Cretaceous of Catalonia depict the polymorphism of a monotypic taxon and were laid by a single dinosaur species.


New books on ancient Egyptian and Nubian leatherwork (2016, 2017):

Excavations of Gebel Adda (Lower Nubia)

Ancient Nubian Leatherwork. Part I. Sandals and Shoes

The excavations of Gebel Adda (Lower Nubia) by the American Research Center in Egypt’s Nubian Expedition (1962-1966, directed by Nicholas B. Millet) yielded large quantities of objects, including an impressive collection of leatherwork. The finds, which show
a remarkable degree of preservation, date from the Meroitic Period (about AD 100-400) through the Christian (AD 641-1400) and Islamic Periods (AD 1400), and were mainly recovered from tombs.

The large variety of leather objects, currently housed in the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, clearly indicates the high degree of the leatherwork technology of the Nubian people. Among the objects are the famous (post-)Merotic quivers, scabbards, and wrist guards. The present work – the first of two volumes on the leatherwork – however, presents only the footwear (sandals and shoes). It includes detailed descriptions, accompanied by colour photographs and, where necessary, drawings. The preliminary analysis, in which the Gebel Adda material is comprehensively compared with the finds from other sites, discusses topics such as typological development, diachronic change, and geographical variations.


New Book on Ancient Egyptian Leatherwork (2017)

Sailors, Musicians and Monks

The Leatherwork from Dra Abu el Naga (Luxor, Egypt)

This volume describes, illustrates, and analysis the finds from the excavations at Dra Abu el-Naga, an important necropolis on the east bank of the Nile in Luxor (Egypt), which was in use from Middle Kingdom times until the early Christian era. Excavations of the site have been conducted by the German Archaeological Institute (DAI).

A wide variety of leather objects or objects with leather parts have been discovered, including footwear, musical objects, loincloths as well as parts of furniture. The dating of these objects, mirroring the variety, ranges from Pharaonic to Ottoman. The present work describes these finds in detail, accompanied by colour photographs and drawings. The analysis includes the discussion of the provenance of the finds, the interpretation of the objects from a technological as well as typological point of view and dating.













Leatherwork from Elephantine published (2016)

Leatherwork from Elephantine (Aswan, Egypt)

Analysis and Catalogue of the Ancient Egyptian & Persian Leather Finds

‘Leatherwork from Elephantine’ describes, illustrates and analyses the finds from the excavations at Elephantine island (Aswan, Egypt) that are conducted by the German Archaeological Institute (DAI), in collaboration with the Swiss Institute for Architectural and Archaeological Research on Ancient Egypt (SI). The majority of the finds are dated to periods well after the pharaonic era (4th century AD onwards), save for a few finds from the New Kingdom and the Middle Kingdom. The majority of finds are sandals and shoes. Most important for leatherwork/footwear studies, however, is the footwear from the Persian layers (6th-5th c. BC), which is distinctly different from ancient Egyptian leatherwork. Ample attention will be given to this important group.












EMCP related workshop

On March 4 and 5 2015 the workshop “The Goldsheet-Appliqués from the Tomb of Tutankhamun – Design, Function and Technology” will be held at the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo. This project works together closely with the EMCP, as most if not all of the goldsheet seems related to chariot: cladding of quivers, bowcases, casing etc.

In the meantime, the analysis of the Tano leather as well as the comparative material from the tombs of Tuthmose IV, Amenhotep II and III, Maiherpri and TT 65 in Luxor are in full swing.

Footwear Collection in Coptic Museum Cairo published

It is my pleasure to announce that the “Catalogue of the Footwear in the Coptic Museum (Cairo)”, written together with Salima Ikram (AUC) is published. It is available in cheap pdf and printed form. One can read it for free online in the e-library of the publisher, Sidestone Press (

This catalogue presents the ancient Egyptian footwear in the collection of the Coptic Museum in Cairo. The catalogue contains detailed descriptions and measurements, photographs and drawings. Each description of a footwear category is followed by short discussions, addressing topics such as typology and dating. In addition a fairly large corpus of comparative material is presented as well, none of which has been published before. The present work will form an important resource for future study.This catalogue is one of the results of the Nuffic Tailor Made Training for the curators of the Coptic Museum in Cairo, jointly organized by the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo and the American University in Cairo in close collaboration with the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the Coptic Museum Authorities and the Ministry of State for Antiquities Affairs.


Why Leather volume published


The ‘Why Leather’ volume is now available at It is available in pdf as well as printed version. In the e-library of Sidestone Press you can browse/read it for free!.

This pioneering volume brings together specialists from contemporary craft and industry and from archaeology to examine both the material properties and the cultural dimensions of leather. The common occurrence of animal skin products through time, whether vegetable tanned leather, parchment, vellum, fat-cured skins or rawhide attest to its enduring versatility, utility and desirability. Typically grouped together as ‘leather’, the versatility of these materials is remarkable: they can be soft and supple like a textile, firm and rigid like a basket, or hard and watertight like a pot or gourd. This volume challenges a simple utilitarian or functional approach to leather; in a world of technological and material choices, leather is appropriated according to its suitability on many levels. In addressing the question Why leather? authors of this volume present new perspectives on the material and cultural dimensions of leather. Their wide-ranging research includes the microscopic examination of skin structure and its influence on behaviour, experiments on medieval cuir bouilli armour, the guild secrets behind the leather components of nineteenth-century industrial machinery, new research on ancient Egyptian chariot leather, the relationship between wine and wineskins, and the making of contemporary leather wall covering.

The Archaeological Leather Group promotes the study of leather and leather objects from archaeological and other contexts. The Group aims to provide a focus for the investigation of leather, and to develop new research by bringing together a broad range of knowledge and experience both practical and academic. Leather is explored through its manufacture, function, context, processing, recording, conservation, care and curation. Members come from a variety of disciplines and include archaeologists, historians, conservators, artefact specialists, materials engineers and leather workers. The Group normally meets twice a year and organises one scholarly meeting in the spring, and visits a museum, working tannery or other place of leather interest in the autumn. The Archaeological Leather Group Newsletter is published twice a year, and the website maintains a comprehensive and expanding leather bibliography.