T. Douglas Price

University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, United States

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Publications (99)180.77 Total impact

  • 08/2015; DOI:10.1080/21662282.2015.1056634
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    ABSTRACT: This article aims to infer population dynamics in the Noh Bec region (Yucatán Peninsula, México) during the Maya Classic period (AD 350-800), based on a combined analysis of dental morphology and (87) Sr/(86) Sr isotopes, and on a comparison of the dental evidence together with archaeological signs of trade and relationships with other regions in the Maya world. Twenty-three dental morphological variables were used to estimate affinities between dental collections from Noh Bec and 10 more sites from the region. (87) Sr/(86) Sr isotopes were recorded from the enamel of permanent teeth of 32 individuals from Noh Bec, and compared to the site's local chemical signature. Dental morphology reveals a strong affinity with Kohunlich, in the central Maya lowlands, while some diversity can be noted with the Petén sites (such as Calakmul) as well as sites on the northern coast of the peninsula. The local extent of (87) Sr/(86) Sr variation ranges between 0.7086 and 0.7088. Eight of the 32 Noh Bec individuals analyzed were born elsewhere. Isotopic values indicate different places of origin although apparently none were from the northern coast of the peninsula; instead, the range of variability reflects many locations along the western coast of the peninsula as well as inland sites in the Chenes region in Campeche. Dental morphology and (87) Sr/(86) Sr ratios indicate intense population dynamics in the peninsula during the Maya Classic period. Despite the different nature of the dental and isotopic indicators, results agree with archaeological evidence and with proposed trade routes in the peninsula. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    American Journal of Human Biology 06/2015; 27(6). DOI:10.1002/ajhb.22749 · 1.70 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Bronze Age of Eurasia (around 3000-1000 BC) was a period of major cultural changes. However, there is debate about whether these changes resulted from the circulation of ideas or from human migrations, potentially also facilitating the spread of languages and certain phenotypic traits. We investigated this by using new, improved methods to sequence low-coverage genomes from 101 ancient humans from across Eurasia. We show that the Bronze Age was a highly dynamic period involving large-scale population migrations and replacements, responsible for shaping major parts of present-day demographic structure in both Europe and Asia. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesized spread of Indo-European languages during the Early Bronze Age. We also demonstrate that light skin pigmentation in Europeans was already present at high frequency in the Bronze Age, but not lactose tolerance, indicating a more recent onset of positive selection on lactose tolerance than previously thought.
    Nature 06/2015; 522:167-172. DOI:10.1038/nature14507 · 41.46 Impact Factor
  • Oswaldo Chinchilla · vera tiesler · T. Douglas Price · Oswaldo Gomez ·
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    ABSTRACT: Human sacrifice in ancient Mesoamerica was strongly linked with ritual behaviour and mythical beliefs. Yet it is rarely possible to explain the mythical associations of archaeological deposits derived from human sacrifice. In this article, we integrate archaeological, taphonomic and isotopic analysis to reconstruct the ritual behaviour that resulted in the formation of a partially cremated primary burial at the Lowland Maya city of Tikal. Taphonomic reconstruction reveals details about the form of death and combustion of two males, while isotopic studies hint at their probable geographic origin. To explain this ritual, we assess the relevance of widespread Mesoamerican mythical beliefs about the origin of the sun and the moon, and discuss the theoretical and methodological issues involved in this comparison. The burial's association with an E-Group compound makes it significant for the interpretation of these specialized architectural arrangements in southern Mesoamerica. It also pertains to a critical period in Tikal's history, marked by intensified cultural and political interaction with the highland Mexican city of Teotihuacan, manifest in this burial by the presence of imported green obsidian spear points. We propose that this unique context resulted from a sacrificial reenactment of the mythological birth of the sun and the moon.
    Cambridge Archaeological Journal 02/2015; 25(01). DOI:10.1017/S0959774314000638

  • 01/2015: pages 119-132;
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    ABSTRACT: Strontium, oxygen and carbon isotopes are measured in human tooth enamel from 32 human burials in structural complex 10J-45 at the Classic Maya site of Copan in western Honduras. These results are compared with similar information from the Copan Acropolis, common graves throughout the site, and baseline information from the surrounding region and the Maya area in general. More than one-third of the burials are identified as non-local based on strontium and oxygen isotope ratios. These non-local individuals came from a variety of different places. Two of these persons appear to be dynastic rulers or highly placed nobles in Copan society. The high density of non-locals and the location of the burials suggest this area may have been an enclave of foreign Maya at the site. The presence of non-local rulers in both this area and the Acropolis supports the concept of “stranger kings” in the Maya realm.
    Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 12/2014; 36(1):32–47. DOI:10.1016/j.jaa.2014.02.003 · 2.32 Impact Factor
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    Elise Naumann · T Douglas Price · Michael P Richards ·
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    ABSTRACT: Human remains representing 33 individuals buried along the coast in northern Norway were analyzed for diet composition using collagen stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis. Where possible, both teeth and bone were included to investigate whether there were dietary changes from childhood to adulthood. A general shift was documented from the Merovingian Age 550-800 AD to the Viking Age AD 800-1050 (VA), with a heavier reliance on marine diet in the VA. Dietary life history data show that 15 individuals changed their diets through life with 11 of these having consumed more marine foods in the later years of life. In combination with (87) Sr/(86) Sr data, it is argued that at least six individuals possibly originated from inland areas and then moved to the coastal region where they were eventually interred. The trend is considered in relation to the increasing expansion of the marine fishing industry at this time, and it is suggested that results from isotope analyses reflect the expanding production and export of stockfish in this region. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    American Journal of Physical Anthropology 11/2014; 155(3). DOI:10.1002/ajpa.22551 · 2.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Understanding the peopling of the Americas remains an important and challenging question. Here, we present 14C dates, and morphological, isotopic and genomic sequence data from two human skulls from the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, part of one of the indigenous groups known as ‘Botocudos’. We find that their genomic ancestry is Polynesian, with no detectable Native American component. Radiocarbon analysis of the skulls shows that the individuals had died prior to the beginning of the 19th century. Our findings could either represent genomic evidence of Polynesians reaching South America during their Pacific expansion, or European-mediated transport.
    Current Biology 10/2014; 24(21). DOI:10.1016/j.cub.2014.09.078 · 9.57 Impact Factor
  • Leigh Symonds · T Douglas Price · Anne Keenleyside · James Burton ·
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    ABSTRACT: MANX NATIONAL HERITAGE re-opened its Viking and Medieval Gallery in 2007. Isotope analysis of two archaeologically famous skeletons, the Balladoole Viking and the Pagan Lady of Peel, was undertaken to gain information on Viking-Age migration and regional interaction. Additional testing of five early medieval skeletons from the St Patrick's Isle cemetery and two from Speke Keeill was also completed. Here we present the results of the analysis of dental enamel using strontium, oxygen, and carbon isotope ratios. The off-island origins of many of these individuals are confirmed, as well as the role of migration in island demographics.
    Medieval Archaeology 09/2014; 58(1):1-20. DOI:10.1179/0076609714Z.00000000029
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    H. Schroeder · J. B. Haviser · T. D. Price ·
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    ABSTRACT: Dental modification was widely practiced in sub-Saharan Africa as a form of cultural expression, and during the era of the transatlantic slave trade, it was regularly identified in enslaved Africans who were transported to the Americas. Here, we report three new cases of African types of dental modification from the Caribbean island of Saint Martin that were recently encountered during construction activities in the Zoutsteeg area of Philipsburg, the capital of the Dutch half of the island. The artifacts associated with the burials indicate that they date to the late 17th century, prior to the foundation of the town of Philipsburg in 1735. The dental evidence further suggests that the three individuals were born in Africa, as opposed to the Americas. This could be confirmed by tooth enamel strontium isotope measurements which yielded values that are inconsistent with an origin in the Caribbean but consistent with an origin in Africa. Unfortunately, neither the dental patterns nor the strontium isotope values allow us to determine their specific origins in Africa. However, both the methods used to modify the teeth and the isotope ratios suggest that the ‘Zoutsteeg Three’ originated in different parts of Africa. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 08/2014; DOI:10.1002/oa.2253 · 0.95 Impact Factor
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    Lise Harvig · Karin Margarita Frei · T Douglas Price · Niels Lynnerup ·
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    ABSTRACT: Dental enamel is currently of high informative value in studies concerning childhood origin and human mobility because the strontium isotope ratio in human dental enamel is indicative of geographical origin. However, many prehistoric burials involve cremation and although strontium retains its original biological isotopic composition, even when exposed to very high temperatures, intact dental enamel is rarely preserved in cremated or burned human remains. When preserved, fragments of dental enamel may be difficult to recognize and identify. Finding a substitute material for strontium isotope analysis of burned human remains, reflecting childhood values, is hence of high priority. This is the first study comparing strontium isotope ratios from cremated and non-cremated petrous portions with enamel as indicator for childhood origin. We show how strontium isotope ratios in the otic capsule of the petrous portion of the inner ear are highly correlated with strontium isotope ratios in dental enamel from the same individual, whether inhumed or cremated. This implies that strontium isotope ratios in the petrous bone, which practically always survives cremation, are indicative of childhood origin for human skeletal remains. Hence, the petrous bone is ideal as a substitute material for strontium isotope analysis of burned human remains.
    PLoS ONE 07/2014; 9(7):e101603. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0101603 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Anchored in archaeological, bioarchaeological, and chemical research conducted at the coastal enclave of Xcambo, this paper examines Classic period Maya coastal saline economic production and exchange, along with the lifestyle, ethnicity, and mobility of the traders. Nestled in the coastal marshlands of the northern Yucatan, Mexico, Xcambo functioned as a salt production center and port during its occupation, maintaining long-reaching ties with other parts of the Maya world and Veracruz. Considered together, the different data sets document a reorientation in Xcambo's exchange routes and connections, which are echoed by increasingly diverse cultural affiliations and an increasing geographic mobility of Xcambo's merchants. This new information confirms the known pattern of gradually intensifying, though still relatively independent, trade dynamics along the Maya coast in the centuries leading up to the so-called “Maya collapse” and the rise of a new merchant league under the control of Chichen Itza. It was this new order that probably led to the swift end of Xcambo soon after a.d. 700.
    Ancient Mesoamerica 03/2014; 25(01):221-238. DOI:10.1017/S0956536114000133
  • T. Douglas Price · Sylvia Chappell · David J. Ives ·
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    ABSTRACT: Experimental, analytical, and archaeological evidence is presented to describe the characteristics of thermal alteration in mesolithic assemblages from the northern Netherlands. Experiments, both in the field and in the laboratory, have established the sequence of changes that occur when flint is subjected to heat. Analytical techniques involving the scanning electron microscope and thermoluminescence analysis are used in an attempt to recognize thermal pretreatment and to define the stages in manufacturing in which it was used. The proportions and spatial distributions of thermally-altered artefacts are employed to compare archaeological assemblages and to locate heat sources on occupation floors. In spite of high incidence of heat alteration in the assemblages, there is no conclusive evidence for intentional thermal pretreatment.
    01/2014; 48:467-485. DOI:10.1017/S0079497X00008483
  • Joachim Wahl · T Douglas Price ·
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    ABSTRACT: The cemetery of Neckarsulm in southwestern Germany was discovered in 2001 and contained the inhumation graves of 50 individuals in 32 graves. The cemetery was in use for about 50 years during the Late Bronze Age (Urnfield culture, Hallstatt A1 period). The individuals who could confidently be identified were almost exclusively adult males. The majority of the skeletal remains exhibit specialized facets that most likely resulting from horseback riding. Several characteristics make this cemetery very unusual: The inhumations in contrast to normal cremation in this time period, the large number of multiple burials, the uniform sex and age of the deceased. There is no information concerning the cause of death of the individuals from the cemetery. Isotopic analysis was used for diet and mobility investigation. Diet for these individuals was relatively homogeneous and included both terrestrial and freshwater species. Tooth enamel from 37 individuals was analysed for strontium and oxygen isotopes. Almost one-third of the individuals in the sample exhibited non-local strontium isotope ratios and likely came from different areas in southwest Germany.
    Anthropologischer Anzeiger 11/2013; 70(3):289-307. DOI:10.1127/0003-5548/2013/0334 · 0.54 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Bornholm is a Danish island almost in the center of the southern Baltic Sea. The strategic location of the island, its rich archeology, and its complex geology make it an intriguing location for the isotopic study of past human mobility. The focus of this study is on the large cemetery of Ndr. Grødbygård in the southern part of the island, which dates to the eleventh century AD and contains 553 individuals in 516 graves. The majority of the burials were in a supine position oriented west–east, with the heads to the west, following the tradition of that time. In contrast to the Christian traditions, however, the graves at Grødbygård were richly equipped by Scandinavian standards and some of the burial practices more closely resembled those from the Western Slavic region of the south (present day northeastern Germany and Poland). We have used isotopic analyses to examine the external relations and potential places of origin of the inhabitants of the cemetery. Strontium and oxygen isotope ratios in human tooth enamel provide a signature of place of origin and can be compared to the ratios of the place of burial to determine local or non-local origins. In the case of Bornholm, the local geology is quite complex, with a variety of rocks of different age and composition, resulting in a wide range of strontium isotope sources on the island, complicating the issue of identifying migrants. At the same time, Grødbygård provides an important example of the application of such methods in less than ideal conditions.
    06/2013; 1(2):93-112. DOI:10.1080/21662282.2013.798903
  • Kenneth C. Ritchie · Kurt J. Gron · T. Douglas Price ·
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    ABSTRACT: In 2007, excavations at the late Mesolithic (Ertebølle) coastal site of Asnæs Havnemark recovered a wealth of flint, bone, and ceramic artefacts. A comprehensive analysis of the faunal remains resulted in over 50,000 identified specimens. Roe deer and gadids predominate, but there are a wide variety of other species represented. Stable isotope analyses of dog bones point to the importance of marine resources. Oxygen isotope analyses of otoliths indicate that fishing was conducted in multiple seasons of the year. Comparison with other late Mesolithic sites demonstrates that while generally the same species of animals were exploited everywhere, there are major differences in the relative abundances of species. The broad subsistence base available and flexibility in how it was exploited weaken arguments for a subsistence crisis brought on by environmental stresses as the causal mechanism for the adoption of domesticated plants and animals at the onset of the Neolithic.
    05/2013; 2(1):45-64. DOI:10.1080/21662282.2013.821792
  • J. Mark Kenoyer · T. Douglas Price · James H. Burton ·
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    ABSTRACT: Exchange and interaction between early state-level societies in Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley during the 3rd millennium BC has been documented for some time. The study of this interaction has been dominated by the analysis of artifacts such as carnelian beads and marine shell, along with limited textual evidence. With the aid of strontium, carbon, and oxygen isotopes, it is now possible to develop more direct means for determining the presence of non-local people in both regions. This preliminary study of tooth enamel from individuals buried at Harappa and at the Royal Cemetery of Ur, indicates that it should be feasible to identify Harappans in Mesopotamia. It is also possible to examine the mobility of individuals from communities within the greater Indus Valley region.
    Journal of Archaeological Science 05/2013; 40(5):2286–2297. DOI:10.1016/j.jas.2012.12.040 · 2.20 Impact Factor
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    Dusan Boric · T Douglas Price ·
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    ABSTRACT: Questions about how farming and the Neolithic way of life spread across Europe have been hotly debated topics in archaeology for decades. For a very long time, two models have dominated the discussion: migrations of farming groups from southwestern Asia versus diffusion of domesticates and new ideas through the existing networks of local forager populations. New strontium isotope data from the Danube Gorges in the north-central Balkans, an area characterized by a rich burial record spanning the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition, show a significant increase in nonlocal individuals from ∼6200 calibrated B.C., with several waves of migrants into this region. These results are further enhanced by dietary evidence based on carbon and nitrogen isotopes and an increasingly high chronological resolution obtained on a large sample of directly dated individuals. This dataset provides robust evidence for a brief period of coexistence between indigenous groups and early farmers before farming communities absorbed the foragers completely in the first half of the sixth millennium B.C.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 02/2013; 110(9):3298-303. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1211474110 · 9.67 Impact Factor
  • K.-G. Sjögren · T. Douglas Price ·
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    ABSTRACT: We report here the results of strontium, oxygen and carbon isotope analysis of teeth from domestic animals at two Neolithic settlement sites in Falbygden, Sweden. The main result is the high mobility of domestic animals, particularly of cattle but also of sheep. More than half of the analysed cattle teeth show strontium isotope signals indicating that they were raised in an area of Precambrian rock, outside the sedimentary Cambro-Silurian rocks found in Falbygden. This is in marked contrast to pigs, which were mostly local to Falbygden. The mobility of cattle is much higher than that of humans, for which the frequency of immigrants is about 25%.We suggest that West Sweden in the Neolithic was not a local but a regional economy, where not only prestige items and humans were circulating but also basic components of subsistence. Such a regional economy would have drawn together the megalithic-building population in Falbygden with its non-megalithic neighbours. In addition, it seems that cattle had a particular place in the Neolithic symbolic system, beyond their economic and practical value.
    Journal of Archaeological Science 01/2013; 40(1):690–704. DOI:10.1016/j.jas.2012.08.001 · 2.20 Impact Factor
  • T. Douglas Price · Jens N. Nielsen · Karin Margarita Frei · Niels Lynnerup ·
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    ABSTRACT: The important Viking Age and early Medieval site of Sebbersund in northern Jutland, Denmark, contains a large churchyard from the 11th–12th century AD. Sebbersund was an important trading center in this period and the location of one of the first churches in Denmark, perhaps an entry point for the introduction of Christianity to the country. Excavations have exposed almost 500 graves of an estimated 700 individuals in the cemetery. Here we report on the analysis of strontium isotopes in human tooth enamel from burials in the cemetery as a signal of place of birth. Some 19 samples have been measured and at least three non-local outliers identified. Futhermore, six archaeological fauna samples had been analyzed in order to define the local bioavailable strontium isotope baseline range and these values were compared to the more general bioavailable baseline range values for Denmark. The burials are evaluated in light of the available archaeological, chronological, anthropological, and isotopic information.
    Journal of Archaeological Science 12/2012; 39(12):3714-3720. DOI:10.1016/j.jas.2012.06.015 · 2.20 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

3k Citations
180.77 Total Impact Points


  • 1970-2015
    • University of Wisconsin–Madison
      • Department of Anthropology
      Madison, Wisconsin, United States
  • 2013-2014
    • Aarhus University
      Aarhus, Central Jutland, Denmark
  • 2006-2009
    • University of Aberdeen
      • Department of Archaeology
      Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom
    • The Reykjavik Academy
      Reikiavik, Capital Region, Iceland