Collections have the task of preserving the collection material in the long term or keeping it accessible. Sampling leads to the irretrievable loss of some of the skeletal material. However, remains from archaeological contexts are a valuable but at the same time highly limited resource. Therefore, the SAM, along with representatives from other institutions on a committee, is considering requests to conduct invasive sampling of SAM material. Invasive or destructive sampling includes, for example, the removal of material for molecular and chemical studies (isotopes, radiocarbon dating, DNA, and others), irreversible pollination of bones for SEM imaging, preparation of histological sections, and other methods that irretrievably alter or destroy human skeletal remains. 

Applications for sampling are decided twice a year. The submission deadlines for this are:

April 1 of the year: the applicant receives the decision in June of the same year.

October 1 of the year: the applicant receives the decision in December of the same year

The application must be submitted digitally to the following address:  

Please review the details of our Skeletal Material Sampling Policy before submitting your request form.

Application procedure

The basis for the decision-making process is a scientific exposé (max. 10 pages) on the planned project with

(a) detailed justification for sample selection and

(b) positioning of the project in the research landscape, i.e., with respect to similar completed and ongoing projects.

This exposé must be submitted to the respective collection in written form.

Furthermore, the applicant must submit a completed form together with the exposé,“Application for Sampling”, to be submitted by the deadline.

The decision-making body is composed as follows:

  • Director of the respective collection
  • Conservators/curators of the respective collection or one conservator/curator each from SAM and SPM for projects for which both human and animal material is to be sampled.
  • A member of the SNSB Collection Committee (appointed by the SNSB for a period of 2 years) or of the Collection Management.
  • Representative of the Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation
  • A member of the SAM/SPM Expert Advisory Board who is not in competition with the applications to be decided.

Important aspects for the application

  • Third-party funding: If third-party funding is to be obtained for the analysis of the SAM or SPM material, permission for sampling must be requested before submitting the third-party funding application. Only after receiving written confirmation may material from the SAM or SPM be included in third-party funding applications submitted by external scientists. The SAM or SPM must then be named as a cooperation partner. Retroactive permission after application approval is excluded.
  • Osteological examination and specimen documentation: Prior to each destructive sampling, an osteological examination must be performed according to corresponding guidelines (SAM 2022, SPM 2022). Costs for the obligatory standardized reporting for human skeletal material or for the recording of archaeozoological characteristic data in the OssoBook database and documentation of the samples (3D scans, photos, impressions, etc.) are to be borne by the applicant. The responsible conservator/curator decides on the form of documentation.
  • If the analyses are carried out as part of a thesis, a statement from the supervisor as the responsible person(s) must also be provided.
  • If some or all of the laboratory analyses are to be taken over by a third party, the contact information of the corresponding laboratory must be provided. The SAM Collection reserves the right to contact the processing laboratory directly if necessary. If there are methodological or technical concerns, the SAM will suggest an alternative laboratory.
  • Die Beprobung hat so minimalinvasiv wie möglich stattzufinden.
  • Sampling is not normally permitted on neonatal remains or on pathologically altered skeletal elements. This also applies to individuals known by name or individuals with significant pathological conditions.
  • The collection consists of a copy of all information obtained from the analyzed material. All results must be reported in writing to SAM/SPM no later than the end of the project, and all resulting publications must be submitted to the appropriate conservator/curator prior to publication.
  • Authorship, mention of and acknowledgements to SAM/SPM staff in publications are to be clarified on a case-by-case basis. The decisive factor should be the effort involved in providing professional support and advice.
  • The applicant accepts the terms of the Biological Material Sampling and Specimen Loan Agreement and enters into a contract with the collection to that effect after the application is granted.
  • Permission for sampling is necessarily project-bound and in no way transferable to subsequent projects. In the event of further sampling, permission must be obtained again.
  • Passing on samples or sample residues to third parties is strictly prohibited.
  • Upon completion of the study, all unused material must be returned.
  • For DNA and isotope analyses, it should be checked whether it is not possible to perform sampling and extraction in the laboratories associated with the SAM and SPM in Munich, so that residual material and aliquots remain in the respective institutions.