T. Douglas Price

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

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Publications (74)60.46 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    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; 36:32–47. · 2.32 Impact Factor
  • 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 06/2014; · 2.48 Impact Factor
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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 01/2014; 9(7):e101603. · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • 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. · 2.14 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. · 9.81 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. · 2.14 Impact Factor
  • 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 01/2013; 70(3):289-307. · 0.54 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: During the early medieval period in Ireland, Dublin was established as the largest Viking settlement on the island in the ninth century AD. A previous biodistance study has suggested that the population of the town consisted of a polyethnic amalgam of immigrant and indigenous. In this study, we use biogeochemistry to investigate paleomobility and paleodiet in archaeological human remains from the ninth to eleventh century levels at the sites at Fishamble Street II (National Museum of Ireland excavation number E172), Fishamble Street III (E190) and John’s Lane (E173), as well as twelfth-century remains from Wood Quay (E132). Through radiogenic strontium isotope, stable oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen isotope, and elemental concentration analyses, we investigate the origins of the individuals who lived and died in early and late Viking Dublin. Mean archaeological human enamel and bone isotope values from Dublin are 87Sr/86Sr = 0.70975 ± 0.00139 (2σ, n = 22), δ13Ccarbonate(V-PDB) = −14.8‰ ± 0.8‰ (1σ, n = 12), and δ18Ocarbonate(V-PDB) = −7.2‰ ± 1.0‰ (1σ, n = 12). Archaeological human bone samples exhibit mean δ13Ccollagen(V-PDB) = −20.8‰ ± 0.5‰ (1σ, n = 12) and mean δ15Ncollagen(AIR) = +10.0‰ ± 1.7‰ (1σ, n = 12). Comparing these data with archaeological faunal data from Dublin and published data from northern Europe, we argue that there are no clear immigrants from other parts of the North Atlantic, although there is one clear outlier in both origins and diet. Overall, the relative homogeneity in both paleomobility and paleodiet may support models of acculturation in Viking Dublin, rather than a high number of first-generation immigrants or continued migration from Scandinavia.
    Journal of Archaeological Science - J ARCHAEOL SCI. 02/2012;
  • 01/2012: pages 269-292;
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    Journal of Archaeological Science 01/2012; 39(2):308-320. · 2.14 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In AD 2000, construction activities in the central plaza of the city of Campeche, Mexico, led to the discovery of an early colonial church and an associated burial ground dating from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries AD. During the subsequent rescue excavations, the remains of at least 180 individuals were unearthed from the churchyard. We have concluded a series of isotopic studies of these remains to obtain information on diet, status, place of origin, and date of burial. This work involves the application of both light and heavy isotope analyses to both tooth enamel and human bone. Carbon and oxygen isotope ratios were measured in tooth enamel and bone. Carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios were measured on bone collagen. Strontium and lead isotopes were measured in tooth enamel, and the ratios were compared to a large database for the Maya region. Radiocarbon dates were obtained for 10 of the skeletons to evaluate the date of burial and the period of use of the cemetery. The results of our study, interpreted jointly with mortuary information and conventional skeletal examination, provide detailed information on the overall burial population, a sort of collective life history of the deceased individuals. In the context of the historical background, new insights on living conditions, mobility, and diet of the founding generations in the colonial New World are obtained. A new and direct appreciation on life and death in an early multiethnic colonial Spanish town, including its historically invisible sectors—children, women, servants, and slaves—becomes possible.
    Current Anthropology 01/2012; 53(4):396-433. · 2.93 Impact Factor
  • Gary M. Feinman, T. Douglas Price
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    ABSTRACT: The model of social change outlined in Chapters 3 and 4 predicts that competition over food and prestige containers was an important process contributing to increase in social and economic inequality during the late Neolithic period of northern China. By the early Bronze Age, labor-intensive and ritually important food vessels played a key role in the political economy. Competitive feasting for acquisition of labor and resources by descent groups caused greater demand for labor-intensive ceramics and diversification in production. There should be evidence for greater differentiation over time in prestigious ceramics in graves and in residential contexts with respect to quantities and varieties of vessels. As social inequality increases, more individuals would have the right to display conspicuous consumption of special foods and containers. Individual households ought to rely increasingly more on personal networks to acquire goods and labor. As social competition increases, access to food and prestigious ceramic vessels should become more restricted.
    02/2011: pages 89-145;
  • Corina Knipper, T. Douglas Price
    01/2011: pages 109-117;
  • T. Douglas Price, Ofer Bar-Yosef
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    ABSTRACT: This introduction to the symposium and to this issue of Current Anthropology attempts to provide some sense of the topic, the meeting itself, the participants, and some of the initial results. Our symposium brought together a diverse international group of archaeological scientists to consider a topic of common interest and substantial anthropological import—the origins of agriculture. The group included individuals working in most of the places where farming began. This issue is organized by chronology and geography. Our goal was to consider the most recent data and ideas from these different regions in order to examine larger questions of congruity and disparity among the groups of first farmers. There is much new information from a number of important areas, particularly Asia. Following a review of the history of investigation of agricultural origins, this introduction summarizes the results of the conference. There are at least 10 different places around the world where agriculture was independently developed, and the antiquity of domestication is being pushed back in time with new discoveries. Our symposium has emphasized the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to such large questions in order to assemble as much information as possible. We anticipate that the results and consequences of this symposium will have long-term ripple effects in anthropology and archaeology.
    Current Anthropology 01/2011; 52. · 2.93 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Following a brief introduction to mortuary practices in Prehispanic Maya society, we outline the analytical procedures followed during the excavation and laboratory investigation of five burial assemblages from the Late Classic period site of Xuenkal, Yucatán, Mexico. A detailed account of a sequence of primary and secondary interments is provided with a focus on taphonomic and biovital information, emphasizing the importance of an interdisciplinary approach, especially human taphonomy, for the reconstruction of complex Maya mortuary treatments. Our results show that bodies of the dead or their parts followed surprisingly long and complex funerary paths.
    Journal of Field Archaeology 11/2010; 35(4):365-379.
  • T. Douglas Price, Ofer Bar-Yosef
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    ABSTRACT: Our discussion involves a review of archaeological evidence from the time of transition to agriculture in the ancient Near East. The context for this review is an important archaeological question about the emergence of social inequality in human society and whether this phenomenon is associated with the beginnings of farming. The shift from hunting to farming takes place in the Levant and southern Anatolia between approximately 14500 and 8200cal BP and includes the periods known at the pre-pottery Natufian and the Pre-Pottery Neolithic. We begin our discussion with a consideration of social inequality and some of the arguments for the timing and nature of the shift from egalitarian to hierarchical society. We then review some of the evidence from the Natufian and Neolithic periods as it relates to questions about status differentiation in human society. Attention is focused on burial practices and body decoration, household architecture and contents, exotic artifacts, monumental construction, and variation in site size and function. We suggest that evidence for the emergence of inequality during the transition to agriculture is indeed present and can be used to argue for a strong association between social relations and subsistence behavior, two of the bigger changes that have taken place in the evolution of human society.
    08/2010: pages 147-168;
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    T. Douglas Price, Gary M. Feinman
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    ABSTRACT: This volume on the emergence of inequality brings a renewed perspective, through varied lenses, at questions surrounding the origins of modern human social organization. In 1995 we edited a volume entitled Foundations of Social Inequality, concerned with many of these same issues. Here we return to this fascinating subject, to unanswered questions, new ideas, and new directions of study and explanation.
    08/2010: pages 1-14;
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    ABSTRACT: Known for its spectacular tombs and adobe talud–tablero architecture, the highland Guatemalan city of Kaminaljuyu is key to models of long distance interaction in Mesoamerica. We use stable isotopic data from human bone, dentine and tooth enamel to reconstruct Kaminaljuyu’s dietary history. Stable carbon isotope ratios and alkaline earth ratios of enamel carbonate indicate a decline in maize consumption from Preclassic to Classic periods, perhaps due to the desiccation of Lake Miraflores, which was used to irrigate Late Preclassic fields. Stable oxygen and strontium isotope ratios in enamel shed light on the geographic origin of Early Classic skeletons, and show that the central skeletons in the tombs were local children. However, four decapitated skulls and two peripheral skeletons show enriched oxygen ratios, similar to Lowland Maya sites. Strontium isotope ratios indicate that most of these are from an area underlain by Cretaceous limestones; one is from a metamorphic region. Two individuals may have traveled to or from Central Mexico. The greater evidence for lowland individuals among the tomb skeletons implies that political connections with the Maya area were more significant to elites at Kaminaljuyu than was direct contact with Central Mexico.
    Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. 01/2010;
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    ABSTRACT: Eight human interments were excavated in the 1990s beneath the Acropolis at the Classic Maya site of Copan in Honduras, which was the capital of a Maya kingdom from ca. AD 400 to 800. These human remains come from both royal tombs and less elaborate burials dating to the early part of this period and lie deep in the accumulated architectural layers of the Acropolis. We present a brief summary of the context, contents, and external links represented by these interments. Several lines of evidence point to connections between early Copan and Teotihuacan in the Central Highlands of Mexico, and Tikal in the central Maya lowlands of the Petén in Guatemala.The bioarchaeology of the interred individuals from the Copan Acropolis is summarized in terms of major characteristics and life history. The focus of this study is the isotopic investigation of these individuals, which included both light and heavy isotopes. We have measured carbon and nitrogen in some of the burials along with strontium, carbon, and oxygen in tooth enamel. In addition, we have a substantial database of strontium isotopes from human burials and both ancient and modern fauna at the site that help to characterize the local isotope ratio at Copan. This information is compared with the larger Maya region and the site of Teotihuacan in the Central Highlands of Mexico to examine questions of human migration and interaction in the Classic Maya period. Focus is on the primary burial identified as K’inich Yax K’uk’ Mo’, the first dynastic ruler of Copan. Epigraphic information on his early years and subsequent events in his life are compared to isotopic data on his place of birth and possible movements. The isotopic evidence suggests that several of the individuals buried in the Acropolis at Copan, including K’inich Yax K’uk’ Mo’, were not born in the local area, but came to this ancient city from elsewhere.
    Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. 01/2010;
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    T Douglas Price
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 05/2009; 106(16):6427-8. · 9.81 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

1k Citations
60.46 Total Impact Points


  • 1970–2014
    • University of Wisconsin–Madison
      • Department of Anthropology
      Madison, Wisconsin, United States
  • 2013
    • Cardiff University
      • Department of Archaeology & Conservation
      Cardiff, WLS, United Kingdom
  • 2007
    • Arizona State University
      • School of Human Evolution and Social Change
      Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 2002
    • The University of Arizona
      Tucson, Arizona, United States