Article

An isotopic palaeoenvironmental study of human skeletal remains from the Nile Valley

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Abstract

Stable isotope measurements were carried out on human skeletal remains from the Nile Valley, ranging in age from about 7000 to 1750 yr B.P. and on a set of other samples among which are archaeological food remains. Bone samples were analyzed for δ18O(PO3−4), δ18O(CO2−3) and δ13C(CO−3) of carbonate hydroxylapatite and δ13C and δ15N of collagen. Food remains and tissue samples were analyzed for their δ13C and δ15N values. The isotopic composition of bone collagen, apatite and food remains (partially representative of the diet in ancient Egypt) suggest a mixed diet including C3 plant food and, probably, animal resources (both fresh-water fish and C3 animals). A rather surprising observation is the lack of differences between isotopic composition of remains of different social classes spanning from the very poor village of Gebelein to the middle class of the rich town of Asyut to the distinguished people who underwent mummification processes after their death. From the palaeoclimatological point of view, the δ18O(PO3−4) values, ranging from 20.6 to 24.5‰, seem to reflect the isotopic composition of Nile river water (also related to relative humidity) rather than real climatic (temperature) variations through time. The oxygen isotope compositions of carbonate and phosphate of the same samples (from 30.2 to 32.5 and from 20.6 to 22.2, respectively) suggest isotopic equilibrium conditions, thus confirming the possibility of also using the carbonate measurements for palaeoclimatological studies, at least in the case of recent and well preserved samples.

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... The carbon isotope value of EA 57353 also differs from the Gebelein skeletal remains analyzed by Iacumin et al. (1996;see discussion below). As this mummy was acquired at auction a decade after the other six, this raises the possibility that its reported provenance may not be correct. ...
... The carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses conducted on the bone collagen and hair show that the diets of the Gebelein individuals curated at The British Museum were based on resources from habitats dominated by C 3 plants. A similar result was obtained in a study of Gebelein mummies stored at the Egyptian Museum of Turin (Iacumin et al., 1996), although in this case the mean d 13 C value was À19.4‰ and the mean d 15 N value 12.2‰. A recent study by Touzeau et al. (2014) has also shown that ancient Egyptians from the Nile Valley consumed almost exclusively C 3 plant-based resources and that, although the contribution of meat is difficult to estimate in these environments (given the high d 15 N terrestrial plant baseline), animal foods may have contributed around 50% of dietary protein. ...
... Datable iconographic parallels for the tattooed motifs and the radiocarbon ages from the bodies all point towards a late and terminal Predynastic date, and confirm that the mummies from Gebelein are the earliest known tattooed individuals in the Nile valley. Isotope analyses conducted on the bone collagen and hair also suggest that their diets were similar to that observed in other Predynastic mummies (Iacumin et al., 1996), and largely based on resources from habitats dominated by plants with a C 3 photosynthesic pathway. With radiocarbon dates ranging from 3351 to 3017 cal BC (95.4% probability), the tattooed individuals are nearly contemporaneous with € Otzi, the Alpine mummy (3370-3100 cal BC; from Deter-Wolf et al., 2016), making them the bearers of some of the oldest surviving tattoos in the world. ...
Article
The application of tattoos to the human body has enjoyed a long and diverse history in many ancient cultures. At present, the oldest surviving examples are the mainly geometric tattoos on the individual known as Ötzi, dating to the late 4th millennium BCE, whose skin was preserved by the ice of the Tyrolean Alps. In the Egyptian Nile valley, the arid climate has also promoted extensive soft tissue preservation. Here we report on the tattoos found during the examination of two of the best preserved naturally mummified bodies from Egypt's Predynastic (c. 4000-3100 BCE) period, making them the earliest extant examples from the Nile Valley. Figural tattoos that mirror motifs found in Predynastic art were observed on the right arm of one male and the right arm and shoulder of one female, demonstrating conclusively that tattooing was practiced in prehistoric Egypt. These findings overturn the circumstantial evidence of the artistic record that previously suggested only females were tattooed for fertility or even erotic reasons. Radiocarbon testing and datable iconographic parallels for the motifs indicate that these tattooed individuals are nearly contemporaneous with the Iceman, positioning them amongst the bearers of some of the oldest preserved tattoos in the world. At over five thousand years of age, they push back the evidence for tattooing in Africa by a millennium and provide new insights into the range of potential uses of tattoos in pre-literate societies by both sexes, revealing new contexts for exploring the visual language of prehistoric times.
... With the δ 13 C and δ 15 N of proteinaceous tissue reflecting an individual's dietary intake and physiological condition during development [1][2][3][4][5], the paired analysis of skin collagen-remodelling on the scale of weeks and months [6,7]-and bone collagen-on the order of years and decades [8,9]-has been used to examine short-and long-term trends in diet, migration, health and cultural practices [10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19]. While variations in amino acid composition typically result in different tissues within the same individual displaying divergent isotopic values [20][21][22], bone and skin collagen are both dominated by type 1 collagen and possess highly similar amino acid profiles [23][24][25]. ...
... However, with isotope ecology studies rarely focusing on the analysis of either of these tissues, much of our understanding comes from archaeological studies where skin has survived through spontaneous and anthropogenic mummification. Here, Δ (skin-bone) discrimination has been attributed to alterations in cultural and environmental conditions in the months prior to death, including substantial dietary change and/or geographical movement, as well as physiological and nutritional stress [11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19]. While these interpretations are plausible, the lack of baseline data from individuals with known life histories confounds evaluation of the explanations presented. ...
... Mean Δ 15 N (skin-bone) values in modern animals are lower than those observed in archaeological populations. It has been speculated that the greater susceptibility of skin to chemical and structural modification in the burial environment may be responsible for the elevated skin δ 15 N values observed in mummified individuals [12,15,19], as peptide bond hydrolysis preferentially eliminates isotopically lighter nitrogenous compounds resulting in an enrichment in the remaining protein [35,45]. While this has the potential to influence the nitrogen isotope values, it is clear from modern animals that an enrichment of at least 2.9‰ in the skin, relative to bone, can occur even in the absence of any diagenetic explanation. ...
Article
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We present the isotopic discrimination between paired skin and bone collagen from animals of known life history, providing a modern baseline for the interpretation of archaeological isotopic data. At present, the interpretation of inter-tissue variation (Δ(skin–bone)) in mummified remains is based on comparisons with other archaeological material, which have attributed divergence to their contrasting turnover rates, with rapidly remodelling skin collagen incorporating alterations in environmental, cultural and physiological conditions in the months prior to death. While plausible, the lack of baseline data from individuals with known life histories has hindered evaluation of the explanations presented. Our analysis of a range of animals raised under a variety of management practices showed a population-wide trend for skin collagen to be depleted in ¹³C by –0.7‰ and enriched in ¹⁵N by +1.0‰ relative to bone collagen, even in stillborn animals. These results are intriguing and difficult to explain using current knowledge; however, on the basis of the findings reported here, we caution any results which interpret simply on differing turnover rates. We hypothesize that there may be a consistent difference in the routing of dietary protein and lipids between skin and bone, with potentially on-site synthesis of non-essential amino acids using carbon and nitrogen that have been sourced via different biochemical pathways.
... Cependant, cette méthode implique de connaître l'évolution du δ 18 O de l'eau du Nil en Égypte et donc de disposer d'une archive ayant enregistré cette composition comme les os et les dents de momies égyptiennes (Iacumin et al., 1996). ...
... Pour les 70 échantillons d'os et d'émail analysés, le δ 18 O p varie de 19,4 à 24,4 ‰, une gamme de valeurs cohérente avec celle de 17-24 ‰ obtenue par Iacumin et al. (1996). Le δ 18 O p de l'émail passe de 21,2 ± 0,5 ‰ à 23,2 ±1,1 ‰ entre l'Ancien Empire (~4500 BP) et la période gréco-romaine (~1900 BP, fig. ...
... La valeur moyenne du δ 13 C des os est de -14,3 ± 0,9 ‰, proche de celle obtenue par Iacumin et al. (1996) pour des momies égyptiennes ( fig. 3). Les dents ont une valeur moyenne de -11,6 ± 0,6 ‰ ( fig. ...
Article
The Egyptian civilization arose and developed during the Predynastic period (7300 to 5000 years before present or BP e.g. before 1950), synchronous with a large scale climatic event, the end of the African Humid Period. The decrease in the amount of precipitation associated with this climate change could have started earlier in Ethiopia (maybe as soon as 8000 BP), while other regions of tropical and subtropical Africa were affected between 6000 and 5000 BP. Several sources point to a maximum of aridity around 5200 BP. This event could have contributed to the concentration of population inside the Nile valley, and thus to the rise of the Egyptian civilization. After this event, the climate became generally arid but unstable, switching between aridity peaks (in particular at 4000 BP) and relative wetter conditions. Lastly, after 1500 BP, the amount of rainfall became very low but steady. Consequently, the climatic fluctuations could also have affected Egypt during the dynastic period (5000 to 2000 BP). Here, oxygen isotope composition (δ¹⁸O value) of phosphate was measured in bone and enamel of Egyptian mummies in order to track climate evolution between 5500 and 1500 BP. The δ¹⁸O values of mineralized tissues reflect the isotopic composition of the drinking water of studied individuals, i.e. the water from the Nile River for Egyptians. Estimated δ¹⁸O values of the past Nile river water increased at the end of the studied period. This marks a decrease in the amount of precipitation or an increase in local temperatures at the two source regions of the river, namely Ethiopia and the Equatorial Lake Plateau. These results confirm that the drying trend continued during the dynastic period and question its effect on the Egyptian prosperity.
... Cependant, cette méthode implique de connaître l'évolution du δ 18 O de l'eau du Nil en Égypte et donc de disposer d'une archive ayant enregistré cette composition comme les os et les dents de momies égyptiennes (Iacumin et al., 1996). ...
... Pour les 70 échantillons d'os et d'émail analysés, le δ 18 O p varie de 19,4 à 24,4 ‰, une gamme de valeurs cohérente avec celle de 17-24 ‰ obtenue par Iacumin et al. (1996). Le δ 18 O p de l'émail passe de 21,2 ± 0,5 ‰ à 23,2 ±1,1 ‰ entre l'Ancien Empire (~4500 BP) et la période gréco-romaine (~1900 BP, fig. ...
... La valeur moyenne du δ 13 C des os est de -14,3 ± 0,9 ‰, proche de celle obtenue par Iacumin et al. (1996) pour des momies égyptiennes ( fig. 3). Les dents ont une valeur moyenne de -11,6 ± 0,6 ‰ ( fig. ...
... While abundant, these materials are constrained by their archaeological phasing or radiocarbon date, which at best assigns the material to a single century. Historic parchment, in contrast, is both numerous and typically dated to the year of use and, as with unprocessed skin (White and Schwarcz 1994;Iacumin et al. 1996;Iacumin et al. 1998;Finucane 2007;Corr et al. 2009;Basha et al. 2016;Lamb 2015), offers the possibility of a time-sensitive analysis of dietary and husbandry trends from the weeks and months prior to the animals' death. ...
... The most consistently acceptable ratios (3.3) were produced from samples that had undergone lipid extraction followed by collagen extraction (demineralisation, gelatinisation, filtration and freeze-drying). This is consistent with the results from other analyses of parchment and mummified skin, where those that have not undergone collagen extraction have been shown to produce high C:N ratios, some in excess of 4.0 (Iacumin et al. 1996;Iacumin et al. 1998;Basha et al. 2016), while those that have undergone lipid and collagen extraction average around 3.3 (Finucane 2007;Pollard and Brock 2011;Brock 2013;Kiljunen et al. 2006). ...
... Of those with ratio >3.2, deamidation is likely the most important factor as the complete conversion of Gln and Asn is likely to result in a ratio of 3.22, although may be due in part to the presence of carbon-rich keratin or lipids. These results caution the interpretation of results from skin with values >4 (Iacumin et al. 1996;Iacumin et al. 1998;Badea et al. 2012) and may indicate the presence of resins, waxes or oils applied during mummification (Cockitt, Lamb, and Metcalfe 2020). ...
Article
Full-text available
Parchment is one of the most abundant resources in archives across the world and is a unique time-sensitive material through which centuries of livestock economies, trade and craft can be explored. We examine the impact of structural and chemical modifications during production to δ¹³C and δ¹⁵N values in the skin, particularly the removal of cutaneous keratins and lipids and the conversion of amide functional groups into carboxyl groups via alkaline hydrolysis. Through the manufacture of 51 parchment skins (sheep, goat, calf and pig) using both historic and modern manufacturing techniques, we found production resulted in a small enrichment in ¹³C (average +0.12‰) and ¹⁵N (+0.26‰). Our results pave the way for the isotopic analysis of parchment in paleodietary and paleoenvironmental studies for the historic period and establish the acceptable C:N ratios in deamidated collagenous tissues.
... In this equatorial region, the oxygen isotope composition of meteoric waters is mainly controlled by the amount of precipitation [9,100], summer and spring rainfall being the main contributors to the Nile. Touzeau et al. [48] demonstrated that their monthly volumes are strongly correlated with the δ 18 O W values of meteoric waters, hence the δ 18 O W values of the Nile, with a slope of −46 mm per 1 ‰. ...
... The present results from the Sai Island individuals are in keeping with the trend of increasing oxygen isotope composition of water drunk by the ancient inhabitants of the Nile valley from 4000 years BP onward [23,24,48,100,101]. They also confirm the unexplained finding of Buzon and Bowen [69] that the Nubian values are higher than the Egyptian ones with a decrease of 3 ‰ between Wadi Halfa and Thebes [23,24,48,100,101]. ...
... The present results from the Sai Island individuals are in keeping with the trend of increasing oxygen isotope composition of water drunk by the ancient inhabitants of the Nile valley from 4000 years BP onward [23,24,48,100,101]. They also confirm the unexplained finding of Buzon and Bowen [69] that the Nubian values are higher than the Egyptian ones with a decrease of 3 ‰ between Wadi Halfa and Thebes [23,24,48,100,101]. This trend of progressive aridification of northeast Africa during the late Holocene is recorded by other proxies [e.g. ...
Article
The oxygen isotope compositions of bones (n = 11) and teeth (n = 20) from 12 Sudanese individuals buried on Sai Island (Nubia) were analysed to investigate the registration of the evolution of the Nile environment from 3700 to 500 years BP and the potential effects of ontogeny on the oxygen isotope ratios. The isotopic compositions were converted into the composition of drinking water, ultimately originating from the Nile. δ18O values decrease during ontogeny; this is mainly related to breastfeeding and physiology. Those of neonates present very large variations. Neonates have a very high bone turnover and are thus able to record seasonal δ18O variations of the Nile waters. These variations followed a pattern very similar to the present one. Nile δ18O values increased from 1.4 to 4.4 ‰ (Vienna Standard Mean Ocean Water) from the Classic Kerma (∼3500 BP) through the Christian period (∼1000 BP), traducing a progressive drying of Northeast Africa.
... Les correlations sensiblement differentes entre la teneur en azote et la quantite de collagene extrait a Bercy et Louviers suggerent que ces correlations dependent des sites. Des donnees provenant d'autres sites confirment cette opinion [Iacumin et al., 1996] (Bocherens, donnees non publiees). L'origine de la coloration sombre dans les lames minces d'os des zones immergees pourrait etre un remplissage des canaliculi par de l'air ou des matieres humiques exterieures. ...
... Data from additional sites confirm this point of view [Iacumin et aI., 1996] (Bocherens, unpublished data). For instance, the correlation obtained between collagen yield and nitrogen amount in whole bone was clearly different in archaeological bones from Egypt [Iacumin et at., 1996]. In the present study, different correlation lines could be obtained by using only bones from one given zone. ...
Article
Full-text available
The diagenetic evolution of bones of different mammal species from two French Neolithic sites (around 4,000 BC), Louviers (Eure) and Bercy (Paris), has been studied using different approaches. Global carbon and nitrogen content of bone powders were a good proxy for collagen content; δ13C values of whole bone carbon have been used to detect the presence of humic contaminants; thin sections were investigated to determine the state of preservation of histological structures and to detect staining and microbial alterations. Collagen has been extracted and its yield and C/N ratio have been measured. Both sites are located on the edge of palaeochannels, and bones were recovered from different burial environments. Comparison of the diagenetic alteration in these different depositional environments demonstrates that different mechanisms are involved and lead to very different states of preservation of the histological structures and of the collagen. The results of this study suggest that such sites may be a useful model to understand the early diagenetic alteration stages of much older palaeontological bones deposited in fluvial environments.
... Les correlations sensiblement differentes entre la teneur en azote et la quantite de collagene extrait a Bercy et Louviers suggerent que ces correlations dependent des sites. Des donnees provenant d'autres sites confirment cette opinion [Iacumin et al., 1996] (Bocherens, donnees non publiees). L'origine de la coloration sombre dans les lames minces d'os des zones immergees pourrait etre un remplissage des canaliculi par de l'air ou des matieres humiques exterieures. ...
... Data from additional sites confirm this point of view [Iacumin et aI., 1996] (Bocherens, unpublished data). For instance, the correlation obtained between collagen yield and nitrogen amount in whole bone was clearly different in archaeological bones from Egypt [Iacumin et at., 1996]. In the present study, different correlation lines could be obtained by using only bones from one given zone. ...
... During (Bottom) Archaeological cervids (deer) from Asia, Europe, and North America, ranging in date from the Pleistocene to the fi rst millennium ad , illustrating the great variation for terrestrial herbivores consuming C 3 plants. Data from Katzenberg (1989) , Bocherens et al. (1995) , Bocherens et al. (1999) , Iacumin et al. (2000) , Weber et al. (2002) , Bösl et al. (2006) , Eriksson et al. (2008) , Schulting and Richards (2009) , Eriksson (unpublished). NB! Diff erences in scale between plots. ...
... Th e δ 18 O value increases with temperature, and enters the body mainly through drinking water (which derives from meteoric water, that is, from rain or snow) or from food. It has been used to detect the palaeoclimate and palaeoecology of, for example, Pliocene hominids ( Fig. 8.2 and Reeser 2003 ) and people in ancient Egypt ( Iacumin et al. 1996 ). It has also been used to study breastfeeding patterns ( Wright andSchwarcz 1998 , White et al. 2004 )-not because of a trophic-level eff ect, as for nitrogen isotopes, but because breastmilk contains body water from the mother, as opposed to meteoric drinking water. ...
... Nonetheless, the above mentioned local climatic conditions in the Saqqara-Memphis floodplain are significantly correlated with previous studies that used different proxies. Using stable isotopes in human skeletal remains (dated from 7.0 to 1.750 kyr cal BP), Iacumin et al. (1996) also showed a shift from depleted d 18 O in Predynastic bones (i.e. unit II) to more enriched d 18 O in bones from the First Intermediate Period. An inference is that this reflected optimum climatic conditions in the former and more arid in the latter. ...
... An inference is that this reflected optimum climatic conditions in the former and more arid in the latter. Iacumin et al. (1996) also mentioned that the climatic conditions during dynastic times (i.e. units III-V) were variable and warm and dry in the Ptolemaic and Roman period (i.e. unit VI). Hassan et al. (2012) used low ratios of oxygen and carbon isotopes in Early and Middle Holocene mollusc shells from the Faiyum Lake to indicate enhanced local precipitation and higher Nile flood discharge. ...
Article
We present results of mineralogical (light, heavy and clay minerals), geochemical and palynological investigations of floodplain sediments at Saqqara. Our investigations provide new insights into our understanding of the source of the Holocene Nile sediments, local palaeoclimate and palaeoenvironment of the floodplain at Saqqara as well as the Holocene palaeoclimatic variations at the Nile headwaters. We also investigate the relationship between Nile floods and global climate changes and the impact of changing flood conditions on episodes of societal and central governmental collapse at the end of the Egyptian Old Kingdom. The Holocene sequences recorded in two shallow drill cores (SAQA 21 and 22) were investigated and subdivided into six sedimentary units, from underlying Late Pleistocene sand and gravels (unit I) to overlying modern soil (unit VIII). Early Holocene sediments were essentially missing in the studied cores, probably due to intensive erosion during the well-known 8.2 kyr cal BP arid event. Middle Holocene sediments are represented by unit II, which reflect high Nile floods of Equatorial African origin with less contribution from Ethiopian sources. The Old Kingdom sediments (unit III), seems to be mainly of White Nile sources with frequent contributions from the Blue Nile. Late Holocene sediments (unit IV-VII) show an increased contribution from Blue Nile River sources. Low Nile flow episodes were recorded at 5.2 (between units II and III), 4.2 (between units III and IV), 3.5 (within unit IV) and 2.7 kyr cal BP (between units V and VI). The second event corresponds to the First Intermediate Period (FIP) and the third probably coincides with the Second Intermediate Period (2nd IP), periods of disorder in Egypt.
... Stable isotope records in continental areas are composed of tree-rings (Mayr et al. 2003), aquatic plant remains (Zhu et al. 2014), biogenic silica from lacustrine microfossils (Heyng et al. 2015), or carbonate from lacustrine shells (Sch€ oll- Barna et al. 2012). In archaeological and palaeontological studies, the isotopic investigations of vertebrate bones and teeth additionally provide a wealth of information about animal and human living conditions and environments (Schoeninger and Moore 1992;Iacumin et al. 1996a;Grupe et al. 1997;Bentley and Knipper 2005), but also of palaeoclimatic variations (D'Angela and Longinelli 1993;Drucker et al. 2011). Besides an accurate dating, a profound understanding of the underlying processes determining each of the named isotope proxies is crucial for the interpretation of isotope records. ...
... collagen, phosphate, and carbonate in bones and-if preserved-hair, skin, and meat (e.g. Iacumin et al. 1996a). Here, we focus on oxygen isotopes of mammalian bones, in particular on bone phosphate, which is biogenic apatite with the generalized formula Ca 5 (PO 4 ,CO 3 ,F) 3 (OH,F,Cl,CO 3 ) (Vennemann et al. 2002). ...
Chapter
Oxygen isotope ratios of organisms are closely linked to the hydrological environment in which they grow up. This is especially the case for mammals. Mammal-bone phosphate is formed at a constant body temperature and, thus, relatively insensitive to temperature-dependent isotope fractionation. The applicability of oxygen isotopes from mammal-bone phosphate for environmental reconstructions is tested here using bones of deer, domestic pig and domestic cattle from 16 archaeological sites situated along a North-South transect crossing the Alps. Bones of 118 specimens in total were analyzed, which covered an age span from the Late Neolithic to the Roman period. The main control on oxygen isotope ratios was site altitude. Significant negative correlations between phosphate-isotope values and altitude were registered especially for cattle and pig. Pig bones from one site were deviating from this altitudinal pattern and were excluded from further correlations. Modern equations for translating oxygen-isotope ratios of the three species to those of source water were applied. The reconstructed source-water isotopic composition showed a similar altitudinal relation as modern Alpine precipitation. As a consequence, our study confirms the utility of oxygen-isotope ratios of mammal-bone phosphate for source water and palaeoaltitudinal reconstructions.
... Collagen was the first tissue used to reconstruct and trace the animal's diet patterns (DeNiro & Epstein 1978), and since then it has been extensively used for dietary and climatic reconstructions (e.g., van der Merwe & Vogel 1978;Ambrose & DeNiro 1986a, 1986bSchwarcz 1991;Bocherens et al. 1994;Cormie et al. 1994;Iacumin et al. 1996). Along with collagen, important isotopic inferences were drawn using bioapatite from tooth enamel as well, that not only helped in the reconstruction of past diet and its impact on the environment, but provided valuable information on ecology, climate, species tropic level and seasonal pattern of birth (e.g.; Lee- Thorp & van der Merwe 1987; Lee- Thorp et al. 1989aThorp et al. , 1989bvan der Merwe et al. 1990;Vogel et al. 1990;Bocherens et al. 1996;MacFadden & Cerling 1996;Cerling et al. 1997). ...
... It is widely known that the mammalian bone and tooth hydroxyapatite are formed at a constant body temperature, which is not disturbed by the variations in the temperature in the environment around. Therefore the δ 18 O of biogenic apatite in bone and tooth is directly related to the δδ 18 O of body water (Longinelli 1984;Luz et al. 1984;Nagy 1989;D'Angela & Longinelli 1990;Iacumin et al. 1996). The oxygen isotopic composition of body water is controlled by multiple variables such as the isotopic values of drinking water and the water in food, physiological processes, dietary/drinking behaviour, and so forth (Longinelli 1984;Luz et al. 1984;Bryant & Froelich 1995;Kohn, 1996). ...
Article
Full-text available
The carbon and oxygen isotopic composition of tooth enamel is connected to the diet and environment in which it develops. Enamel is invariably preserved for a long time and hence provides the best material for chemical analysis. Teeth are known to reflect a record of dietary and environmental changes taking place during their growth. This paper presents the results of intra-tooth oxygen and carbon isotope values (δ18O,δ13C) of first, second and third molars obtained from five modern cattle collected from two locations: Dhansi and Hathnora from the Central Narmada Valley, India. The specimens chosen for this study are individuals presumed to have died naturally and/or disposed of by local farmers. The isotopic analysis of tooth enamel is broadly indicative of a C3 diet with values of δ13C (enamel bioapatite) ranging from –6.4‰ VPDB to –27.31‰ VPDB with an average of –16.68‰ VPDB. The δ18O values measured in the enamel samples range between of 1.76‰ to 25.15‰ with a mean value of 22.17‰ VSMOW. These present day dental enamel values of modern cattle were compared against the published enamel isotope values of Bos namadicus, that occupied this region during the Pleistocene era, in order to understand the possible shift in diet and environment and their inter-relationship between the modern and the Pleistocene Era. The fossil sample produced enriched values of carbon isotopes compared to the modern taxa, indicating a C4 rich diet, while the diet of the modern cattle is extensively dominated by C3 type vegetation. We also observed an enriched oxygen isotope values for the fossil sample compared to the modern samples, indicating a possible effect of diagenesis and/or a shift in the temperature and rainfall.
... The measurement of oxygen isotopic ratios in apatite carbonate has often been used to track the geographic origin and mobility of humans (e.g. Iacumin et al. 1996). Indeed, δ 18 O in ground water sources is linked to different geographic parameters such as latitude, altitude and temperature (Longinelli 1984). ...
Article
Diachronic changes of dietary human habits between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age are mainly identified through archaeological artefacts and archaeozoological and archaeobotanical studies. This paper aims to demonstrate the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach for palaeodietary studies and to identify the food changes between Neolithic and Bronze Age human groups in northern France. These changes are probably linked to the introduction of new crops, such as millet, and the use of stable isotope analysis on bones and teeth proves to be an effective method for assessing the role of this specific cereal in the diet and the economy. Stable isotope analyses were performed on bone and tooth collagen and apatite from eight humans and five domestic animals from a Late Bronze Age site (LBA; Barbuise; 15th–13th c. BC; Aube). The studied corpus is compared with isotopic data from human and animal bones from a nearby Neolithic site (Gurgy; 5th mill. BC; Yonne) and regional Neolithic to Iron sites located in northern France. Moreover, Barbuise data are supplemented by information from an important archaeobotanical study carried out on 21 LBA and Early Iron Age sites in the region. Neolithic and LBA human collagen isotopic ratios (δ¹³C, δ¹⁵N) differ statistically, as do those of some animals. Carbon isotopic ratios of human apatite corroborate collagen results indicating the consumption of ¹³C enriched food by LBA humans and animals compared to Neolithic samples. The high number of occurrences of plant remains in the Bronze Age settlements near the site points to the consumption of C4 plants, such as millet, and would account for these results.
... The studies predominantly focus on bone collagen but do include some skin and hair studies (White 1993;White et al. 1999). Together all the tissues suggest that the Nubian diet was richer in C 4 plants than the northern Nile Valley in Egypt, an observation that has been widely made in other studies Iacumin et al. 1996;Thompson et al. 2005). White and Schwarcz (1994) were able to sample soft tissues and skin from a number of Nubian mummies from Wadi Halfa on the Egyptian border spanning the X-Group Period (350-550 AD) to the Christian period (500-1400 AD). ...
Article
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Mummies are faunal remains that include the preservation of soft tissues, such as skin, muscle, nails and hair as well as bone. These soft tissues are generally rich in collagen or keratin proteins and thus provide potentially suitable material for stable isotope studies. When preserved, such tissues can provide high-resolution information about the diet and migration of humans in the weeks and months before death. Hair, nails and soft tissue provide short-term (months) dietary information in contrast to bone which will represent 5–20 years of dietary history prior to death, depending on the bone analysed. Such high-resolution data can answer questions on the season of death, seasonality of food resources and the movement and relocation of people. This review begins with a summary of the most common isotope techniques (13 C/ 12 C, 15 N/ 14 N) and the tissues concerned, followed by an analysis of the key questions that have been addressed using these methods. Until relatively recently work has focused on bulk protein isotope analysis, but in the last 10 years this has been expanded to on-line compound-specific amino acid analysis and to a wider variety of isotopes (18 O/ 16 O, 2 H/ 1 H and 34 S/ 32 S) and these applications are also discussed.
... A preliminary determination of the whole bone nitrogen (N) content was performed following Iacumin et al. (1996Iacumin et al. ( , 1997 and Bocherens et al. (2005) to characterize the potential collagen preservation. Fresh bone contains around 4% nitrogen (e.g., Bocherens et al., 1991). ...
... Individuals with Δ 13 C ap-col substantially deviating from this value indicate mixed diets with different δ 13 C for the protein and energy components. For example, Δ 13 C ap-col less than~3‰ have been interpreted as indicative of diets with C 3 energy and C 4 /marine protein (Ambrose et al., 1997;Harrison and Katzenberg, 2003;Iacumin et al., 1996;Krueger and Sullivan, 1984;Lee-Thorp et al., 1989). This approach has been criticized by Kellner and Schoeninger (2007) who have proposed that it is more informative to use bivariate plots of comparison of δ 13 C co and δ 13 C ap relative to regression lines representing different dietary combinations. ...
... In any given area within the summer monsoon region, the heavier the rain, the lower the δ 18 O, owing to the "amount effect" (Dansgaard, 1964). We reconstructed the δ 18 O of local meteoric waters from the average enamel-δ 18 O values of rhinos, pigs, bovids, horses, giant apes and hyaenas (all presumably obligate drinkers), using the following equation Zhang et al., 2012) derived from the enamel/bone phosphate-water δ 18 O relationship for obligate drinkers (Kohn and Cerling, 2002) and the relationship between δ 18 O of phosphate and structural carbonate components of hydroxyapatite for modern mammals (Iacumin et al., 1996): ...
... Each sample was reacted with 100% ortho phosphoric acid at 70 o C. Liberated CO 2 was then trapped and transferred to the mass spectrometer for the isotopic analyses. The acid fractionation factor for structural carbonate was assumed to be the same as for calcite (see Swart et al. 1991;Bryant et al. 1996;Iacumin et al. 1996b, Dupras & Schwarcz 2001). ...
... Samples were all soaked in the different solutions for 72 h except in the case of N 2 H 4 •H 2 O (used for 48 h to follow the procedure in Termine et al., 1973). There is a range of reaction time reported in the literature for the these pre-treatments, ranging from few tens of minutes to three days (Iacumin et al., 1996;Balasse, 2002;Balasse et al., 2002;Towers et al., 2011;Loftus and Sealy, 2012). For consistency we decided to go for the highest reported time, in order to maximise the effects observed in the investigated specimens. ...
... To test the quality of the collagen, the chemical composition of the bone sample and then of the collagen fraction (%C, %N and the atomic C/N ratios) were checked. A evaluation of bone nitrogen (N) content was made, following Iacumin et al. (1996Iacumin et al. ( , 1997, to characterize the collagen preservation state. Indeed, fresh bone contains around 4% nitrogen (e.g. ...
Article
Numerous historical sources describe many aspects of the estate-based society in medieval times; the detection of socioeconomic status within populations through skeletal remains is a topic of growing interest in anthropological studies. In medieval times, it was common for members of high social rank to be buried within or next to a church. This was certainly the case in Grevenmacher (Luxembourg), where remains of a church building and an adjacent cemetery from the 13th until the beginning of the 15th century were subjected to archaeological and anthropological analysis. By integrating archaeological and anthropological elements, as well as stable isotope analysis, we documented osteological manifestations as indicators of diet differentials in two subsamples (first group consists out of 56 individuals, second one out of 184 individuals) from the medieval cemetery of Grevenmacher. We could distinguish two subsamples that we assumed as different in their socioeconomic status with regard to the burials’ position in the cemetery and burial characteristics. Differences in osteological traits such as bone length, stature, and body mass indicated differences in diet between sample groups. To substantiate these outcomes, stable isotopic analysis (δ13C, δ15N) were made; the results displayed a clear separation between the sample groups on the basis of their diet. Therefore, we were able to confirm certain individuals in the medieval population of Grevenmacher in relationship to their socioeconomic status.
... et d'un A de 6 %c, ce dernier sera de -6.5 %c.Les mesures provenant du Kenya sont donc transposables, pour une première approche globale, au Sahel et au Sahara méridional. Ce point est important car les populations du Nord du Sahara qu'elles soient situées à l'Est dans la vallée du Nil(Iacumin et al, 1996b), ou au Maghreb (Saliège, inédit) ont des teneurs en !3C plus faibles, liées à un environnement dominé par les plantes en C30). De ce point de vue, le Sahara marque une coupure franche (voir carte du couvert végétal,fig. ...
... et d'un A de 6 %c, ce dernier sera de -6.5 %c.Les mesures provenant du Kenya sont donc transposables, pour une première approche globale, au Sahel et au Sahara méridional. Ce point est important car les populations du Nord du Sahara qu'elles soient situées à l'Est dans la vallée du Nil(Iacumin et al, 1996b), ou au Maghreb (Saliège, inédit) ont des teneurs en !3C plus faibles, liées à un environnement dominé par les plantes en C30). De ce point de vue, le Sahara marque une coupure franche (voir carte du couvert végétal,fig. ...
... Rather, these tissues will reflect environmental effects on the oxygen and hydrogen isotopic composition of the water consumed. For example, seasonal shifting in δ 18 O values related to fluctuating levels of the Nile has been reported in a preliminary study of variation within human osteons, the main structural unit of bone (Iacumin et al. 1996, Geirnaert & Laeven 1992). This record indicates a long period of increased aridity that began around 1500 years BC (Jackson 1957, Geirnaert & Laeven 1992 as well as climatic variability in source regions (Bell 1970, Butzer & Hausen 1968, Pollard 1968) and more recently, the evaporative effects of the Aswan dam. ...
... This is further support that these animals were not herded within the immediate pasturage (not further than 20 km) around the outpost but were likely herded in a more arid environment that supports C 4 grasses. The Nile Valley and Delta provide an ample source of C 4 fodder, whereas other nearby C 4 environments are not significantly composed of edible livestock vegetation (Vogel et al., 1986;Iacumin et al., 1996;Thompson et al., 2005;Thompson et al., 2005;Buzon and Bowen, 2010). In contrast, the majority of the second molars of sheep exhibit carbon isotope values that indicate a diet composed primarily of C 3 vegetation, characteristics of the Hesi region. ...
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Isotopic analyses can be a useful tool in identifying animal exploitation patterns and herding strategies in the southern Levant. Here, carbon, oxygen, and strontium isotope analyses of domestic animal tooth enamel are used to investigate herd management at the Iron Age IIA site of Khirbet Summeily in Israel. The site was located in a prime ecological and political locale along the fringes of the emerging polity (potentially Judah), which ascended to regional significance by the Iron Age IIB. In order to understand the diets and movement of sheep, goats and cattle, we undertook intra-tooth sequential sampling and isotopic analyses of mandibular molars (n = 20). Results suggest that the livestock recovered at Khirbet Summeily were raised in different locations with varied management patterns. Variation in the dietary intake of sheep and goats indicates that they were pastured in different ecological zones. While some goats were mobile across long-distances, the majority of livestock were from local and regionally managed herds. Alongside material evidence of exotic goods from nearby polities, our findings lend further support to the idea that Khirbet Summeily acted as a resource allocation outpost strategically located on the edge of a political entity (potentially Judah), suggesting a trend towards increased economic complexity during the Iron Age IIA.
... Some researchers have used Fouriertransform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and a crystallinity index to assess alterations in crystal structure of the apatite (Wright and Schwarcz, 1996). Others have proposed a comparison of phosphate and carbonate isotope ratios or the amount of CO 2 extracted from each sample to identify possible diagenetic alteration (Iacumin et al., 1996(Iacumin et al., , 2014. In a study of Maya human bones from Belize, researchers used CO 2 gas yield produced during the combustion of apatite samples in the mass spectrometer (Williams et al., 2005), accepting the range of CO 2 yields between 0.6 and 1.3% as indicative of unaltered samples (Ambrose, 1993). ...
Article
Both archaeological and isotopic data document dietary changes over the first five centuries of Western Pacific island settlement, a time period beginning with the Lapita expansion about 3000 years ago. This change is marked by a decrease in marine food intake and an increase in vegetal food intake occurring in the Late Lapita/immediately post-Lapita populations. The recent discovery of human burials at Talasiu (~2700–2600 cal. BP) in the Kingdom of Tonga opens new opportunities to assess this matter. We characterize the nature of the food items consumed by the Talasiu humans (n = 21) using collagen and apatite carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios. We conducted an intra-Pacific comparison to examine the use of marine resources and the contribution of horticultural products and to look at the homogeneity of dietary practices within the Tongan group. Isotope results indicate a mixed diet of terrestrial and marine resources including a differential contribution of more specific marine foods (e.g., non-reef fish/inshore fish and shellfish). The Talasiu dietary pattern appears closer to that of the early Lapita population of Teouma than to other Late Lapita populations suggesting a different pattern of dietary change at the eastern end of the Lapita distribution. The slower rate of change may be due to the small size of both the island and the population, and also the additional potential role of social or cultural factors.
... The δ 18 O values were converted from carbonate (δ 18 O C ) to phosphate (δ 18 O P ) values because although δ 18 O C is quicker, easier and less expensive to measure, carbonate ions are thought to be more susceptible to diagenetic alteration, and the relationship between δ 18 O P values in bioapatite and drinking water (δ 18 O DW ) is better understood (Daux et al., 2008;Chenery et al., 2012). This conversion was done using the equation published by Chenery et al. (2012), which was based on a regression line, developed by these authors, that compared well to δ 18 O C and δ 18 O P bioapatite studies of other bone remains (Iacumin et al., 1996;Tütken et al., 2008;Metcalfe et al., 2009). In order to compare the bioapatite oxygen values to meteoric water, they first need to be converted to drinking water (δ 18 O DW ) values. ...
Article
The Kingdom of Portugal was established with the help of military-monastic orders, which provided important defence against Muslim armies during the 12th-13th century Christian conquest. While historical sources document the main events of this period, this research seeks to elucidate individual lifestyles and movement, aspects typically absent from written records. A multi-isotopic approach was used on skeletal material from eight Christian and two Muslim burials from Évora, Portugal (11th-13th centuries). Anthropological and archaeological evidence suggests the Christian adults belonged to the Évora Militia, which we seek to confirm through the reconstructed diet and mobility of these individuals. Stable carbon, nitrogen and sulphur isotopes were measured in bone collagen, and radiogenic strontium, carbonate stable oxygen and apatite stable carbon isotopes were measured in tooth enamel. Results of the stable oxygen and radiogenic strontium isotopes indicated diverse origins of the Christian population, while at least one individual was local. The Muslim adult was local, as anticipated. The δ 13 C en (enamel) values provide evidence of childhood consumption of different cereals (C 3 and C 4), possibly linked to social status. The δ 13 C col (bone collagen) human values indicated mostly C 3 diets with varying inputs of C 4 , while δ 15 N reflected high protein intake overall. The mean diet-consumer spacing of this population was compared to other isotopic studies from Medieval Iberia and other European monastic/convent populations. A visible trend emerged in populations that likely followed religious fasting rules, including the Évora Christians. The results of this study indicate that the Order of Évora was composed of members from diverse geographic and possibly social origins, an aspect previously unclear in written sources.
... Nevertheless, the δ 18 O water values for the Nile would have remained broadly stable from the Late Period of ancient Egypt/the Meroitic Period in Sudan to nowadays (Touzeau et al., 2013). This is mainly supported by the high and positive δ 18 O values displayed by human and animal samples during that time span Iacumin et al., 1996Iacumin et al., , 2016Touzeau et al., 2013). Also, oxygen isotope compositions of tooth enamel from archaeological faunal specimens collected in the Libyan Sahara are in good accordance with the δ 18 O values of modern precipitations . ...
Article
Rome saw its number of foreign individuals increase considerably as the empire expanded. These foreigners arrived as either free persons or slaves from the newly conquered provinces and near-frontier zones and came to influence the whole life of the city. Yet relatively little is known about their life histories. In this study, we bring direct evidence for the first example of an African-born migrant, with an origin beyond the southern imperial border, discovered in Rome. Based on a multi-tissue sampling strategy including molar teeth and mandibular cortical bone, a multi-analytical approach including isotopic (δ¹³C, δ¹⁵N, δ¹⁸O, δ³⁴S, ⁸⁷Sr/⁸⁶Sr), dental morphology (geometric morphometrics, nonmetric traits) and ancient DNA (mitochondrial DNA, Y chromosome) analyses allows reconstructing the journey and lifeway patterns of the individual US215/Mand1 buried in the mass grave from the catacombs of Saints Peter and Marcellinus. The successful isotopic and dental morphology analyses suggest that the individual was probably born in the vicinity of the Nile Valley or within the central Sahara Desert. Results also suggest a diachronic change of residence in the area during their early life. The way US215/Mand1 reached Rome is still hypothetical, although it seems likely that the individual could have undergone forced migration as a slave to the capital.
... Studies have shown that enamel-δ 18 O values of obligate drinkers are strongly correlated with the δ 18 O values of local meteoric water (e.g., Kohn and Cerling, 2002). We reconstructed the δ 18 O values of local meteoric water from enamel-δ 18 O values using the following equation derived from enamel/bone phosphate-water δ 18 O relationship for obligate drinkers (Kohn and Cerling, 2002) and the relationship between δ 18 O of phosphate and structural carbonate components of hydroxyapatite for modern samples (Iacumin et al., 1996): ...
Article
The Late Miocene witnessed significant changes in climate globally and was an important time in the evolution of hominoids. Here, we report the results of an isotopic study of Late Miocene mammalian teeth and freshwater shells from Shuitangba (Yunnan Province, China) – an important refugium for hominoids, and reconstruct paleoenvironmental conditions in the area. δ¹³C values of fossil enamel samples range from −15.5‰ to −1.0‰, with a mean of −11.3 ±2.3‰, and δ¹⁸O values vary from −14.2 to −4.6‰, averaging −9.7 ±2.2‰. Reconstructed diet-δ¹³C values for these fossil mammals indicate that although they fed mostly on C3 plants, many of them consumed some C4 vegetation. This suggests that the local ecosystem contained C4 grasses but was dominated by C3 plants. The intra-tooth δ¹⁸O variation of fossil herbivores is larger than what is found in modern herbivores. Reconstructed paleo-meteoric water δ¹⁸Ow values are on average lower than those inferred from modern samples and also lower than the average δ¹⁸Ow values of modern precipitation in the region. Similarly, δ¹⁸O values of fossil freshwater shells display a larger seasonal variation and are significantly lower than modern shells from Fuxian Lake in the same region. Thus, the δ¹⁸O data from both mammalian teeth and freshwater mollusk shells support a wetter climate, possibly with a stronger precipitation seasonality in the Late Miocene than today. Comparison of clumped isotope temperatures from fossil and modern shells suggests a mean annual temperature of ~15 to 16 °C in the Shuitangba area in the Late Miocene, which is ~3 to 4 °C higher than that of today. Taken together, our isotope results suggest that C4 grasses existed in local ecosystems in the area, likely in patches of grasslands or wooded grasslands in a mostly forested environment in the Late Miocene when the local and regional climate was warmer and wetter than today. Comparison of the δ¹³C records from Yunnan and the Siwalik region suggests that C4 biomass spread earlier in the Indian subcontinent on the southwest side of the Tibetan Plateau than in Yunnan on the southeast side of the Plateau. The transition from a relatively wet habitat to a more open and drier habitat is also more pronounced and begins earlier in the Siwalik region, relative to Yunnan. These regional differences in climate and ecosystem evolution may be linked to the unique growth history of the Himalayan-Tibetan Plateau.
... The samples were ultrasonicated in acetone in order to remove possible synthetic glue, then rinsed with distilled water then dried and powdered to a particle size of less than 0.7 mm. To screen a large number of specimens for the quality of collagen preservation, a preliminary determination of the total nitrogen (N) content was performed, as suggested by Iacumin et al. (1996). 5-7 mg powder of each sample was measured on a CHN elemental analyzer Carlo Erba NA 1500. ...
Article
During the past several decades, the paleoecology of the Mammuthus-Coelodonta Faunal Complex in the Palearctic has been thoroughly explored, especially using stable isotope analysis. Numerous studies have documented high ecological plasticity and regional heterogeneities for this fauna. However, very limited attention has focused on Northeast Asia, at the southeastern edge of the distribution of the mammoth steppe biome. In the present study, we undertook radiocarbon dating, zooarchaeology by mass spectrometry (ZooMS), and stable isotope analysis on the fossil faunas from Yanjiagang Paleolithic site, Northeast (NE) China, and from the Geographical Society Cave in the nearby Russian Far East, to explore the paleoecology of this fauna in this middle-latitude region. Isotopic (δ¹³C, δ¹⁵N) data from these two sites suggested that the woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) was a grazer feeding on grass/sedges, while the woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis) and steppe bison (Bison priscus) utilized a wider range of food resources. All megaherbivores exhibited some ecological plasticity. Meanwhile, the mammal remains from Geographical Society Cave prevalently exhibited lower δ¹⁵N values than those from China, indicating variable environments and vegetation in Northeast Asia during MIS 3. Interestingly, through reevaluating the diachronic mammal distribution and ecology based on direct radiocarbon dating and ZooMS, we report the solid evidence of Bubalus, typically interpreted as a mild climate faunal element in the Pleistocene, alongside the Mammuthus-Coelodonta Fauna in Yanjiagang. This emphasizes the unique scenario of this biome in Northeast Asia, where the fauna exhibits sensitivity to synergic effects of climatic oscillations and local geographic traits. After comparing isotopic data of mammoth from different subregions of Asia, we found that NE China displayed both highest δ¹³C and δ¹⁵N values, possibly correlate with the higher temperature compared to other arctic regions. This study reveals the characteristics and complexity at the southeastern limit of the range of the mammoth steppe biome and urges more systematic studies within and outside this region.
... Hierzu wurden die gereinigten Knochenproben bis zu einer Korngröße unter 0,7 mm homogenisiert. Die Analyse der gesamten Substanz erfolgte entsprechend der Laborroutine (Iacumin et al. 1996): ca. 5 mg der pulverisierten Knochenprobe (in einer Zinnkapsel) wurden mittels eines CHN-Elementanalysators (Carlo-Erba NA 1500) analysiert. Dabei wurden die Proben in einem Quarzofen bei 1020 °C verascht, die entstehenden Gase im Heliumfluß sukzessive zunächst durch Oxidation, anschließend durch Reduktion gereinigt. ...
... 27 Thus, if the δ 18 O values of tissues are measured, the results can help to assess an animal's origin and movement. 20,28,29 The relationship between the δ 18 O P value and the δ 18 O value of drinking water (hereafter the δ 18 O DW value) is also known to be species-specific and therefore it can also be part of provenance studies. 10,17,18,20,30 While this is well established in humans 5,23,31,32 and a range of animals including several deer species (examples in 10,33 ), it is currently unknown for fallow deer. ...
Article
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Rationale The species‐specific relationship between phosphate (δ¹⁸OP values) and structural carbonate (δ¹⁸OC values) oxygen isotope ratios has been established for several modern and fossil animal species but until now it has not been investigated in European fallow deer (Dama dama dama). This study describes the relationship between phosphate and structural carbonate bioapatite in tooth enamel of extant fallow deer, which will help us further understand the species’ unique environmental and cultural history. Methods The oxygen isotope composition of phosphate (δ¹⁸OP value) and structural carbonate (δ¹⁸OC value) of hydroxylapatite was determined in 51 modern fallow deer tooth enamel samples from across Europe and West Asia. THe δ¹⁸OC values were measured on a GV IsoPrime dual inlet mass spectrometer and the δ¹⁸OP values on a TC/EA coupled to a DeltaPlus XL isotope ratio mass spectrometer via a ConFlo III interface. Results This study establishes a direct and linear relationship between the δ¹⁸OC and δ¹⁸OP values from fallow deer tooth enamel (δ¹⁸OC = +9.244(+/‐0.216) +0.958 * δ¹⁸OP (+/‐0.013)). Despite the successful regression, the variation in δ¹⁸O values from samples collected in the same geographical area is greater than expected, although the results cluster in broad climatic groupings when Koppen‐Geiger classifications are taken into account for the individuals’ locations. Conclusions This is the first comprehensive study of the relationship between ionic forms of oxygen (phosphate oxygen and structural carbonate) in fallow deer dental enamel. The new equation will allow direct comparison with other herbivore data. Variable δ¹⁸O values within populations of fallow deer broadly reflect the ecological zones they are found in which may explain this pattern of results in other euryphagic species.
... (VPDB), given the current Khartoum mean annual temperature of 28°C (Neumann, 1989 Iacumin, Bocherens, Mariotti, & Longinelli, 1996), even higher than modern rainfall in Sudan (however, substantially lower δ 18 O values are observed upstream of Aswan (Langman, 2015). ...
Article
Holocene environmental change in the northern and central Nile Valley was controlled primarily by shifts in the Intertropical Convergence Zone over time, leading to changes in aridity and water availability for early occupants of the region. Although local environmental changes may help to motivate societal changes such as those in settlement patterns or technological productions, evidence from pedogenic carbonates at Sai Island, in northern Sudan, indicate that the most significant environmental changes predated a key shift in local food production from foraging to pastoralism. Changes in local environmental conditions from a wetter and more diverse vegetative context to a more arid and C4‐dominant landscape occurred during the occupation of Khartoum Variant foragers, whereas later Abkan pastoralists arrived without any notable differences in the region compared to the environments inhabited by the most recent foragers. The lack of an external environmental driver for food production changes at Sai suggests that other, potentially cultural factors were more important in these economic decisions in the mid‐Holocene.
... It is possible that women hailed from the same origins in this time, but this might be an issue of equifinality and they have childhood residences in different parts of the world with similar underlying geologies [64][65][66]. Oxygen stable isotope (δ 18 O) analysis is an additional tool for investigating paleomobility in a bioarchaeological context [67] and has been used in previous Egyptian and Sudanese studies [45,[68][69][70][71][72]. Future research utilizing δ 18 O analysis on the Tell el-Dab'a assemblage might hold promise for identifying these non-locals with local 87 Sr/ 86 Sr values. ...
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A foreign dynasty, known as the Hyksos, ruled parts of Egypt between c. 1638–1530 BCE. Their origins are thought to be rooted in the Near East, which is supported by architectural features and grave accoutrements of Tell el-Dab'a. In this former Hyksos capital in the Eastern Nile Delta, burial culture is characterized by a blend of Egyptian and Near Eastern elements. However, investigations are still ongoing as to where the Hyksos came from and how they rose to power. The aim of this study is to elucidate the question of possible provenience. We present the results of strontium isotope (⁸⁷Sr/⁸⁶Sr) ratios of human tooth enamel (n = 75) from Tell el-Dabca, focusing on comparing pre- and during Hyksos rule and sex-based differences. An influx of non-locals can be observed in the pre-Hyksos period (12th and 13th Dynasties, c. 1991–1649 BCE) during the constitution of this important harbor town, while the number of individuals already born in the Delta is larger during the Hyksos period. This is consistent with the supposition that, while the ruling class had Near Eastern origins, the Hyksos’ rise to power was not the result of an invasion, as popularly theorized, but an internal dominance and takeover of foreign elite. There is a preponderance of non-local females suggesting patrilocal residence. We discuss our findings against the current evidence of material culture and historiography, but more investigation in Near Eastern comparative sites has to be conducted to narrow our future search for the actual origins of the Hyksos.
... The measurement of oxygen isotopic ratios in apatite carbonate has often been used to track the geographic origin and mobility of humans (e.g. Iacumin et al. 1996). Indeed, δ 18 O in ground water sources is linked to different geographic parameters such as latitude, altitude and temperature (Longinelli 1984). ...
... δ 18 O values of paleo-meteoric water can be estimated using the following relationship given in Zhang et al. (2012) which was derived from the enamel/bone phosphate-water δ 18 O relationship for obligate drinkers (e.g., rhinos, pigs, bovids, and elephants) (Kohn and Cerling, 2002) and relationship between δ 18 O of phosphate and structural carbonate components of hydroxyapatite for modern animals (Iacumin et al., 1996): Reconstructed paleo-water δ 18 O w values for Yugong Cave and Baxian Cave vary from −10.5‰ to −8.2‰ (averaging −9.4 ± 0.9‰) and from −11.0‰ to −9.9‰ (with an average of −10.5 ± 0.5‰), respectively. These reconstructed δ 18 O w values are lower than those for Yanliang Cave which range from −9.2‰ to −7.5‰, with a mean value of −8.1 ± 0.8‰ (Stacklyn et al., 2017). ...
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The role of climate change in the evolution and diversification of hominoids remains a hotly debated issue. Stable isotope analyses of fossil mammals that coexisted with the hominoids can provide insights into hominoid palaeoenvironments and shed light on this debate. Here, we report results of stable carbon and oxygen isotope analyses of tooth enamel samples from a variety of Pleistocene mammals including pandas, deer, elephants, pigs, rhinos, and bovids from two hominoid fossil localities (Yugong Cave and Baxian Cave) in South China. Enamel δ13C values indicate that most of the mammals living in the study area during the late Middle Pleistocene had C3-based diets but a small number of individuals consumed some C4 grasses. This indicates the presence of C4 plants in the region during the late Middle Pleistocene, most likely in patches of open areas in a predominantly forested environment. However, during the early Late Pleistocene, all of the mammals examined had C3-based diets, except one bovid and one panda that may have ingested small amounts of C4 plants. This indicates a dense forested environment with little C4 grasses during the early Late Pleistocene. Like the Early Pleistocene pygmy panda (Ailuropoda microta) from Yanliang Cave, the late Middle Pleistocene Ailuropoda baconi from Yugong Cave and the early Late Pleistocene Ailuropoda melanoleuca from Baxian Cave had higher mean diet-δ13C values than other co-occurring herbivores, indicating they preferred relatively open forest habitats and had more restricted diets compared to other mammals. The reconstructed mean paleo-meteoric water δ18Ow values are lower than the annual average δ18Ow value of modern precipitation in the region, suggesting that the climatic conditions during the times when these Pleistocene mammals were alive were colder and/or wetter than today. In addition, δ18O values of the obligate drinkers (pigs, rhinos, bovids) display an overall decreasing trend, accompanied by increased range of δ18O variations, from the Early Pleistocene to the early Late Pleistocene. This suggests that the regional climate became colder and/or wetter, with increased seasonality, from the Early Pleistocene to the early Late Pleistocene, likely related to intensified glaciation. The change in climate to colder conditions may be responsible for the extinction of the Gigantopithecus in this region.
... Bone sampling followed standard procedure and a protocol modified from Longin 81 was implemented 48 . A preliminary determination of the potential collagen preservation (nitrogen content in whole bone) was conducted [82][83][84] . These measurements were performed with a Vario EL III elemental analyser (Elementar) (mean standard error 0.02%, 0.05%, and 0.03% for %C, %N and %S, respectively). ...
Article
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Correlating cultural, technological and ecological aspects of both Upper pleistocene modern humans (UpMHs) and Neandertals provides a useful approach for achieving robust predictions about what makes us human. Here we present ecological information for a period of special relevance in human evolution, the time of replacement of Neandertals by modern humans during the Late pleistocene in europe. Using the stable isotopic approach, we shed light on aspects of diet and mobility of the late Neandertals and UpMHs from the cave sites of the troisième caverne of Goyet and spy in Belgium. We demonstrate that their diet was essentially similar, relying on the same terrestrial herbivores, whereas mobility strategies indicate considerable differences between Neandertal groups, as well as in comparison to UpMHs. our results indicate that UpMHs exploited their environment to a greater extent than Neandertals and support the hypothesis that UpMHs had a substantial impact not only on the population dynamics of large mammals but also on the whole structure of the ecosystem since their initial arrival in europe. Nowadays modern humans (Homo sapiens) are the only species of humans left on Earth. This was different during the Late Pleistocene when Neandertals and Upper Pleistocene modern humans (UPMH) coexisted in Europe. Relatively soon after the arrival of UPMHs in this region about 45-43,000 years ago, the Neandertals became extinct 1-4. Differences in the ecological niches of UPMHs and Neandertals while coexisting in the same ecosystems are regularly suggested as being the possible cause for the demise of Neandertals. Emphasis is placed on late Neandertals being ecologically less flexible than UPMHs (but see 5-7) and therefore giving an advantage to UPMHs. According to this hypothesis, UPMHs had a broader dietary ecological spectrum, especially having
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In South America, most examples of dental modification come from Ecuador; however, none have been directly radiocarbon dated and few have associated cultural materials or context. In fact, many modified teeth and crania are housed in museum collections, divorced from their cultural and temporal milieus, and because of this it is generally assumed that this limits the interpretive possibility of these individuals. We used multiple methods to investigate temporal and geographic origins of seven crania with dental modification housed in the Museo Antropológico y Arte Contemporáneo in Guayaquil, Ecuador. We identified diverse forms of dental modification, including dental inlays and appliques, incised lines, and anterior dental avulsion. Additionally, teeth from four modified individuals were sampled for radiocarbon dating and isotopic analyses (Sr, Pb, O). The dates indicate that dental modification persisted for at least 600 years (cal. A.D. 990–1646). The relatively heavy oxygen isotopes in the sampled teeth are consistent with Ecuador as a place of origin for the four individuals assayed, but strontium isotopes are quite varied, from 0.70462 to 0.70777 indicating that they did not reside in the same geographical area. Interestingly, the observed variations in strontium isotopes in the four individuals are lower than the modeled 87Sr/86Sr for the region. The values suggest the individuals resided in terrains with volcanic bedrock, which are abundant in Ecuador, yet their influence on the strontium isoscapes is not well represented by the published regional models. This analysis highlights the utility of multiple methods in bioarchaeology and biogeochemistry to investigate “orphaned” museum collections. En Sudamérica, la mayor parte de los ejemplos de modificación dental surgen de Ecuador; sin embargo, ninguno de estos casos ha sido fechados utilizando análisis de radiocarbono y pocos están asociados con contextos o materiales culturales. De hecho, varios dientes y cráneos modificados están localizados en colecciones museísticas y han sido divorciados de sus entornos culturales y temporales originales, generalmente con la suposición que limitan la posibilidad interpretativa de estos individuos. Nosotros utilizamos varios métodos bioarqueológicos y biogeoquímicos para investigar los orígenes temporales y geográficos de siete cráneos con modificaciones dentales ubicados en el Museo Antropológico y Arte Contemporáneo en Guayaquil, Ecuador. Nosotros identificamos varias formas de modificaciones dentales, incluyendo incrustaciones y aplicaciones dentales, incisiones de líneas y avulsión dental anterior. Adicionalmente, los dientes modificados de cuatro individuos fueron muestreados para fechar con análisis de radiocarbono y análisis isotópico (Sr, Pb, O). Las fechas indican que la modificación dental persistió durante por lo menos 600 años (990–1646 DC). Los isótopos de oxígeno relativamente pesados en los dientes muestreados son consistentes con Ecuador como lugar de origen para los cuatro individuos analizados, pero los isótopos de estroncio son bastante variados, de 0.70462 a 0.70777, lo que indica que no residían en la misma área geográfica. Las variaciones observadas en los isotopos de estroncio son más bajes de los 87Sr/86Sr modeladas para la región e indican que estos individuaos residían en regiones con la roca de fondo volcánica. Las rocas volcánicas son abundadas en Ecuador y aparentemente no está bien representadas en los modelos. Aún más, esta es la primera evidencia bioarqueológica sugerente de avulsión dental en Ecuador prehispánico. Finalmente, este análisis resalta la utilidad de métodos mixtos en bioarqueología y biogeoquímica para investigar colecciones museísticas que han “quedado huérfanas”.
Article
The advent of Christianity in Nubia (modern Sudan) in the sixth century AD prompted a far-reaching cultural transformation, with changes in material culture, architecture, and cultural practice, marked in the funerary sphere as well. Due to its uneven hydrological conditions, Sudan has always been populated by peoples possessing diverse economic adaptations, with agricultural communities settled along the fertile Nile valley and various mobile pastoralist groups occupying vast areas of the adjacent deserts. This study contributes novel data to the study of medieval Nubian subsistence strategies through an assessment of stable carbon (δ¹³C) and nitrogen (δ¹⁵N) values in the bone collagen and apatite of 25 lay individuals interred within three contemporaneous cemeteries adjacent to the medieval monastic settlement of Ghazali in northern Sudan. Along with human values, this study utilizes a number of faunal samples for the comparative investigation of diet among various groups buried at the site. Collected results suggest primary reliance on C4 products with regular contributions from terrestrial animal proteins. Examined in the context of archaeological data, large contributions of C4 may be considered indicative of subsistence diversification and semi-pastoral economies of the local medieval populations.
Chapter
This final chapter will summarize the previous chapters and discuss the potential for additional research. The methods I have proposed in Chapters 3 and 4, and demonstrated in Chapter 5 only represent a selection of the techniques bioarchaeologists can use to address day-to-day life. Other areas that need additional research include: collaboration between archaeology and bioarchaeology, bioarchaeological methods, and anthropologically oriented research. Bioarchaeologists have had access to many of these lines of evidence, but have yet to be conceptualized as components of everyday life. Like activity and diet, various types of data can elucidate the experience of the individual and the community. Two areas of bioarchaeological research that have begun to question lived experience include osteobiographical approaches and the bioarchaeology of care. Both of these fields have considered life events and social identities that would have framed everyday experience; however, these studies typically do not examine entire groups or communities, but rather focus on a single person. Furthermore, these approaches do not frame their research in terms of everyday experience, but rather address it peripherally. This book presents an argument for why studies of day-to-day practice are important in anthropological research and how bioarchaeological studies can contribute to this dialogue.
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This book provides the first comprehensive, overview and guide to forensic isotope analysis, an exciting new application of stable isotope analytical techniques. Topics are introduced using examples and real-life case studies such as food quality control where isotope analysis has already had a major impact, in terms of consumer protection, These examples illustrate the underlying principles of isotope profiling or fingerprinting. A section comprising actual criminal case work is used to build a bridge between the introduction and the technical section to encourage students to engage with this novel departure for analytical sciences while at the same time providing hands-on examples for the experienced researcher and forensic practitioner to match problems and success stories encountered with the topics discussed in the technical section. What little information is available on the subject in book form so far, has been published as individual chapters in books dealing either with mass spectrometry, forensic geoscience or environmental forensics, this is the first book to focus on the entire spectrum of forensic isotope analysis and will be an invaluable reference to both researchers in the field and forensic practitioners.
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Rationale: Although the analysis of skeletal remains dominates the study of ancient dietary stable isotopes, mummified bodies also allow short-term diet to be studied through the analysis of soft tissues. The application of resins, waxes and oils during mummification can affect the results obtained. This study assesses a range of methods for removing such substances from mummified tissue. Methods: An experimental mummification model following ancient Egyptian methods was created using a modern pig leg. Sub-samples of skin, muscle and bone were removed and coated with a range of substances used in Egyptian mummification. Four methods were used to clean these samples before the measurement of the carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios of their gelatinised collagen content using a ThermoFinnigan Flash Elemental analyser coupled to a DeltaPlus XL isotope ratio mass spectrometer via a ConFlo III interface. Results: The results showed that embalming materials can significantly affect dietary stable isotope ratios, and that these substances are most effectively removed using a mixture of polar and non-polar solvents. Results indicate that bone samples demineralised with HCl and skin samples produce more accurate results than bone samples demineralised with EDTA or muscle samples. Conclusions: The choice of tissue and the preparation methods used can have a significant effect on the accuracy of stable isotope data obtained from mummified tissue, particularly when embalming materials are also present. A mixture of solvents appears to be a more effective cleaning agent than a single solvent. Demineralisation with HCl is preferable for well-preserved bone as used in this study, but whether this is the case for more fragile, less well-preserved bone requires further study. Skin samples produce more consistent data than muscle, but visually distinguishing between these tissues is not simple on ancient mummies.
Chapter
In this chapter, I will describe how dietary reconstruction, assessed via human teeth and bone, can be used as yet another way to address everyday life. Like activity reconstruction, there are several methods that osteologists employ that can speak to what an individual consumed. It is important to note that eating is much more than just a functional activity—it is a social act that can be either public or private and simultaneously incorporates many aspects of identity and practice including food choice, preparation, presentation, and consumption. Thus, when we view the skeleton as embodied remains of social and biological experiences, we can address several aspects of this day-to-day experience. As in Chapter 3, I will discuss several of these methods including, stable isotope (carbon and nitrogen), compound-specific, and dental wear analyses, in subsections.
Thesis
The study investigated ecological aspects of the mammoth steppe ecosystem in NW Europe with a special focus on the role of late Neandertals and early modern humans through the analysis of stable isotopes in bone collagen (delta 13C, delta 15N and delta 34S). Around the time of Neandertal extinction and the arrival of modern humans a diverse community of large herbivorous and carnivorous mammal lived under cold, fluctuating environmental conditions in NW Europe. The study reconstructed the ecological robustness of this ancient ecosystem and its response to oscillating climatic conditions as well as in regard of the ecological participation of Neandertals and early modern humans. The trophic web, the niche partitioning, the ecological flexibility of single species, as well as the general buffer capacity of this biocenosis are objects of investigation. The Belgium site Troisième caverne of Goyet provided a broad set of directly dated late Neandertal and very early modern human skeletal remains associated with a considerably assemblage of Pleistocene faunal remains. The occurrence of late Neandertals and early modern human skeletal remains at the same place are unique circumstance and allowed a direct comparison of several ecological aspects during a time span with a special relevance for the human evolution. The site Ziegeleigrube Coenen is contemporaneous with the occurrence of late Neandertals and reflects the ecosystem during or shortly after a cold spell. Even during such phases the structure of the mammoth steppe ecosystem was intact and provided consequently an adequate basis for late Neandertal subsidence. In an ecological context the Neandertals were part of there are no indications for any stress on the structure of the ecosystem. Through the analysis ofdelta delta 13C and delta 15N isotopic ratios in bone collagen of faunal and hominid remains the trophic web was evaluated. Processing of the isotopic data 2 through several statistical approaches allowed a detailed reconstruction of ecological niche partitioning of late Neandertals and early modern humans. Both hominid species occupied the same distinct ecological niche in terms of diet with a clear preference for mammoth and reindeer. The investigation of the delta 34S composition in Pleistocene bone collagen is a relatively novel approach and provided insights into spatial hominid procurement. The Goyet Neandertals do not reflect the local fauna delta 34S congruously their main prey had an origin different from the neighborhood of the Belgium sites (Scladina, Spy and Goyet). In contrast the delta 34S signal of the Spy Neandertals and the Goyet ancient modern humans corresponds to the values obtained on the local fauna. Potentially different mobility strategies among Pleistocene hominids while exploring the same prey species is the drafted scenario. The site Lommersum reflects the ecosystem at an initial phase of occupation by modern humans in the area, when Neandertals became already extinct. At this time the regional mammoth population was declining, since the horses entered their niche in distinct region of Western Europe. This study hypothesized that increasing hunting pressure on mammoth by modern humans was the main reason for this, since so far no significant environmental changes on terrestrial ecosystems could be observed in NW Europe. This study indicates that no distinct ecological change happened through the time of the last Neandertals, even during colder phases of the OIS 3. Potential ecological reasons could not be served as arguments for Neandertal extinction in NW Europe. With the capture of the area by representants of the Aurignacian the mammoth steppe ecosystem started to show evidences for stress, in this case at least partly independently of environmental fluctuations.
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Millions of mummified birds serving for religious purpose have been discovered from archeological sites along the Nile Valley of Egypt, in majority ibises. Whether these birds were industrially raised or massively hunted is a matter of heavy debate as it would have a significant impact on the economy related to their supply and cult, and if hunted it would have represented an ecological burden on the birds populations. Here we have measured and analysed the stable oxygen, carbon and radiogenic strontium isotope compositions as well as calcium and barium content of bones along with the stable carbon, nitrogen and sulfur isotope composition of feathers from 20 mummified ibises and birds of prey recovered from various archeological sites of Ancient Egypt. If these migratory birds were locally bred, their stable oxygen, radiogenic strontium and stable sulfur isotopic compositions would be similar to that of coexisting Egyptians, and their stable carbon, nitrogen and oxygen isotope variance would be close, or lower than that of Egyptians. On one hand, isotopic values show that ibises ingested food from the Nile valley but with a higher isotopic scattering than observed for the diet of ancient Egyptians. On the other hand, birds of prey have exotic isotopic values compatible with their migratory behaviour. We therefore propose that most mummified ibises and all the birds of prey analysed here were wild animals hunted
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Isotope data from a sacrificial ass and several ovicaprines (sheep/goat) from Early Bronze Age household deposits at Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel provide direct evidence for the movement of domestic draught/draft and husbandry animals between Old Kingdom Egypt (during the time of the Pyramids) and Early Bronze Age III Canaan (ca. 2900–2500 BCE). Vacillating, bi-directional connections between Egypt and Canaan are known throughout the Early Bronze Age, but here we provide the first concrete evidence of early trade in animals from Egypt to Canaan.
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Burials, Migration and Identity in the Ancient Sahara and Beyond - edited by M. C. Gatto February 2019
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This represents one of several sections of "A Bibliography Related to Crime Scene Interpretation with Emphases in Geotaphonomic and Forensic Archaeological Field Techniques, Nineteenth Edition" (The complete bibliography is also included at ResearchGate.net.). This is the most recent edition of a bibliography containing resources for multiple areas of crime scene, and particularly outdoor crime scene, investigations. It replaces the prior edition and contains approximately 10,000 additional citations. As an ongoing project, additional references, as encountered, will be added to future editions. Popular and scientific references to the use of stable isotopes in identifying skeletal remains; or, more accurately, identifying geographical ranges in which the decedent may have lived, are the focus of this section. It also includes topics such as Carbon 14 dating and bomb pulse data. Stable isotope analyses may provide investigators clues to the spatial history of unidentified victims. Our bones and teeth, throughout our lives become reservoirs for those chemical elements to which we are exposed. The longer those exposures to the varied concentrations of different elements in different areas of the world, the more likely the victim can be determined as having resided in a particular area. By knowing the areas inhabited by a victim, the more likely investigators will be able to track down his, or her, identity. Unlike radioactive isotopes, stable isotopes never disintegrate. Schwarz, (2007), provides a good example of the forensic value of stable isotopes: "Most of the O atoms in our body come from the water we drink, and is usually isotopically like the precipitation where we live. Therefore, we can often learn where a person lived from the isotopic composition of their teeth and bones. Fortunately, we now have maps showing the distribution of 18O/16O ratios in precipitation falling over North America and Europe which we can use to help trace the place of origin of a murder victim. Even burned remains can be analyzed this way." (Schwarz, 2007:28) Like DNA, stable isotope analyses will continue to be developed and be refined. And like DNA analyses, it may someday be a staple in the forensic scientist's toolbox. Because stable isotope analysis is so dependent on the proper collection of known environmental samples, the researcher is also referred to the section Geoarchaeology and Soil Science. Our culture obviously impacts and reflects where we live and what we consume. For those reasons, the researcher may find useful citations in the section entitled Criminal and Cultural Behavior. That said, crime scene investigators should also remember that other animal species and plant life associated with crime scenes, also reflect stable isotope signatures which may aid in reconstructing crime scene events. (2076 citations)
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The preservation of trophic structure and climatic information in Kent's Cavern Upper Pleistocene mammal bones and teeth was assessed by comparing the isotopic composition of modern and fossil equivalents. Yields of collagen from both bone (N=19) and tooth (N=49) were extremely variable, with values relative to modern bone ranging from 0% to 100%. No evidence of preferential preservation of tooth collagen was detected. The carbon and nitrogen isotopic differences in the herbivore versus carnivore collagen from Kent's Cavern fauna were consistent with those observed in modern faunas. Moreover, an enrichment of 0·4-1·7‰ in15N was observed in tooth collagen of both deer and hyena as compared to bone collagen. This enrichment presumably reflects a trophic shift from the consumption of milk during infancy. Herbivores and carnivores had distinct differences in the carbon isotopic composition of enamel carbonate hydroxylapatite, similar to those measured in modern specimens from similar climatic environments. The spacing between the Δ13C values (difference between isotopic composition in collagen and carbonate hydroxylapatite) of Kent's Cavern herbivores and carnivores is similar to that measured in modern mammals from a single locality. The preservation of primary oxygen isotopic composition of enamel carbonate hydroxylapatite was more difficult to assess, however. Oxygen isotopic compositions of Kent's Cavern enamel are systematically lower than those of contemporaneous faunas from Southern France, which is consistent with a latitudinal effect on rainfall oxygen isotopic compositions. Although the Kent's Cavern specimens have been subjected to extensive diagenetic alteration, the biological isotopic signals seem to have utility for paleoecological reconstructions.
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The influence of combined inorganic N on the growth of N2-fixing blue-green algae Aphanizomenon flos-aquae in Lahontan Reservoir was detected with N isotopic compositions that were enriched in 15N. In Pyramid Lake, however, the delta 15N of the entire food web was influenced by a contribution of isotopically light N released from N2-fixing blue-green algae Nodularia spumigena. Carbon isotope ratios of these unpalatable, blue-green algae from both lakes were different enough from the zooplankton and higher animals to preclude a direct trophic link. An enrichment in 13C with trophic level in the food chain was measured in both lakes. Carbon isotope ratio measurements clearly illustrated the isotopic similarity between hatchery-raised Lahontan cutthroat trout Salmo clarki henshawi and cui-ui Chasmistes cujus and the artificial diet, but differed from the delta 13C of scales and the delta 13C of muscle from fish that is species specific. Fish scales, as well as muscle, thus can be used to determine diet. -from Authors
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Centimetre-scale laminae in tusk and molar dentine of late Pleistocene mastodonts and mammoths have been interpreted as annual growth bands produced, in part, by seasonal variation in growth rate. To test this interpretation, we measured the oxygen isotope composition (δ18O) of the CO3 fraction of dentinal hydroxyapatite from samples covering consecutive inferred years of growth in tusks. In mammals, changes in the δ18O value of dental tissues within individuals predominantly reflect variation in the δ18O value of body fluids, which is controlled mainly by the isotopic composition of ingested water. In Northern Hemisphere continental regions, winter precipitation has substantially lower δ18O values than does precipitation in other seasons. If ingested water tracks focal precipitation, then seasonal variations in dentinal isotope composition should result, the lowest δ18O values representing winter growth. We demonstrate that there are substantial variations in the oxygen isotope composition of proboscidean dentinal apatite, and that isotopic identifications of winter (i.e., low δ18O values) coincide with those based on growth rate (i.e., slow-growth zones). Finally, the potential of oxygen isotope analyses of terrestrial mammals for assessing the seasonality of paleoclimates is considered.
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Collagen from bone was prepared by several methods. For modern and well-preserved bone the δ¹³C and δ¹⁵N of collagen replicas obtained after HCl or EDTA demineralization were similar to those obtained with a gelatinization procedure. However, in more poorly preserved fossil bone the δ¹³C and δ¹⁵N varied among the different protein extracts. The yield of collagen obtained with EDTA demineralization was consistently higher than extraction procedures that used HCl. The δ¹³C of individual amino acids separated from the collagen of modern and fossil whale bone varied up to 17{per thousand}, and the δ¹⁵N from the same amino acids ranged over 47{per thousand}. The δ¹³C and δ¹⁵N of most amino acids clustered closely to the average of the HCl insoluble collagen. The δ¹³C of the major amino acid in collagen, glycine, differed from the average HCl insoluble collagen by approximately 8{per thousand} in the fossil whale and 14{per thousand} in the modern whale. The δ¹⁵N of glycine differed from the average HCl insoluble values by approximately 4{per thousand} in the fossil whale and 7{per thousand} in the modern whale. Thus, diagenetic changes that alter the ratio of glycine to other amino acids in bone can be expected to perturb the values for carbon and nitrogen isotopes.
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The δ18O of mammalian bone-phosphate varies linearly with δ18O of environmental water, but is not in isotopic equilibrium with that water. This situation is explained by a model of δ18O in body water in which the important fluxes of exchangeable oxygen through the body are taken into account. Fractionation of oxygen isotopes between body and environmental drinking water is dependent on the rates of drinking and respiration. Isotopic fractionation can be estimated from physiological data and the estimates correlate very well with observed fractionation. Species whose water consumption is large relatively to its energy expenditure is sensitive to isotopic ratio changes in environmental water.
Article
The difference between 13C isotopic abundances in bone organic matter (collagen) and the mineral phase (carbonate hydroxylapatite) is used for the determination of the trophic level of the animal, especially on fossil samples. This difference is greater for herbivore mammals from cold and temperate areas than for South African herbivore mammals studied previously 8.4±1.4‰ versus 6.8±1.4‰ respectively). This larger value should be used in the interpretation of isotopic abundances of 13C in fossil mammals from temperate and arctic areas. There is an abridged English version. -English summary
Article
δ^(18)O values have been determined for 53 coexisting chert-phosphate pairs from the Phanerozoic and Precambrian. In addition, δ^(18)O values were also determined for 18 biogenic phosphates from the Phanerozoic. The oxygen isotope data for the chert-phosphate pairs permit the calculation of the temperatures of formation of the chert-phosphate pairs as well as the δ^(18)O of the waters in which they equilibrated. In turn the calculated δ^(18)O of the waters permit the calculation of temperatures from the isotopic data of the biogenic phosphates. The temperatures for the Tertiary and Mesozoic samples are compatible with the literature values determined from oxygen isotope data for well-preserved calcareous marine skeletal remains. The temperatures calculated from the chert-phosphate pairs of the Paleozoic are usually higher and vary in cycles of about a 150 million year period. The early Precambrian temperatures are as high as 80°C and decrease with time. The use of chert-phosphate pairs for temperature determinations are sufficiently promising to warrant further investigations of this type on well preserved chert-phosphate or carbonate-phosphate pairs.
Article
Natural carbon isotopic abundances in enamel carbonate hydroxylapatite of herbivorous mammals from Kemiklitepe upper Miocene localities indicate that the vegetation consisted exclusively of C3-plants. These isotopic values suggest a more forested environment for the mastodonts than for the hipparions and for the giraffid Samotherium. -English summary
Chapter
Dietary evaluation using isotopic analyses of carbon in collagen from bone is an exciting new area of archaeological chemistry. Analyses of bone from herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores (including humans) suggest that a simple isotopic fractionation between dietary carbon and carbon in bone collagen may be an inadequate model for interpretation of results. Dietary carbohydrates are primarily metabolized for energy and their carbon is reflected mainly in the hydroxyapatite of bone. Dietary lipids are also important energy components of the diet. Dietary proteins, on the other hand, are utilized for protein (e.g. bone collagen) synthesis as needed and only excess amino acids are metabolized for energy. Herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores thus might have different isotopic fractionation models, each of which is presented. Biochemical evidence in support of these models is discussed.
Article
There has been much discussion about regional diversity in the subsistence economies of Japanese prehistoric hunter-gatherers during the Jomon period. The discussion has focused on the meaning of regional difference in such archaeological evidence as artifact, faunal and floral assembrages. In this study, however, human bones are the major topic. Carbon isotopic analysis of the human skeletal materials from three Jomon shellmidden sites and from northern Ainu populations in Hokkaido and Sakhalin, spanning the time period 4000BP to the present, indicates area-specific dietary specialization. The Hokkaido and Sakhalin aboriginal people developed a marine-oriented subsistence base, while more emphasis on terrestrial food chains was found in the Jomon period samples.
Article
The stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios of plants extracted from Peruvian archaeological sites, ranging in age from 400 to 4000 years B.P., have been measured. The δ13C and δ15N values of prehistoric plants that were carbonized prior to deposition are similar to those of modern plants which have the same carbon dioxide fixation or nitrogen assimilation mechanisms. In contrast, the δ15N values of prehistoric plants that were not carbonized are generally 10-20%. and as much as 35%. more positive than those of their modern counterparts. The δ13C and δ15N values of different parts of prehistoric uncarbonized plants differ by as much as 8%. and 21%. respectively, whereas the same parts of modern plants have δ13C or δ15N values that lie within 2%. of one another. SEM analysis etiminated the possibility that diagenetic alteration of the isotope ratios of the prehistoric uncarbonized plants was caused by the adsorption of particulate soil matter. Isotopic analysis of the organic residues that remained after the prehistoric uncarbonized plants were treated to remove fractions that might have been added in the depositional environment indicated that the alteration of the δ13C values resulted from the adsorption of humic and fulvic acids, whereas the diagenetic shifts of the nitrogen isotope ratios were not caused by adsorption of δ15N-enriched organic or inorganic forms of nitrogen from the soil. Our observations do not permit us to speculate on a mechanism that accounts for the δ13N-enrichment of the prehistoric uncarbonized plant remains, although the excellent state of preservation of these samples suggests that isotopic fractionation during microbial decomposition was not the cause. The observation that the isotope ratios of the prehistoric carbonized plants are similar to those of their modern counterparts indicates that it will be possible to separate carbonized plants residues into three groups—legumes, non-leguminous C 3 plants or C 4 and CAM plants—based on their δ13C and δ15N values. This method should provide useful information to archaeologists working in environments in which carbonized plant remains, often burned beyond morphological recognition, are the only archaeobotanical remains which are recovered.
Article
The remains of 40 skeletons from the necropolises of Iwelen and Adrar Bous, situated in the massif of Aı̈r, southern Sahara (Niger) have been investigated for their mineral content, carbon isotope ratio and14C activity. The impermeability of the graves allowed for a good preservation of the bones, which are in fact devoid of secondary calcite. Furthermore, the necropolis of Iwelen gave the opportunity to study tombs which cover a time interval of about four thousand years, which is rather exceptional for sub-Saharan Africa. The good state of preservation of the material enabled the study of the geochemical evolution of bone carbonate hydroxylapatite through time, with a significant statistical resolution. All analytical data allow us to conclude that the initial13C/12C isotopic ratio of the carbonate hydroxylapatite, albeit accompanied by a change in the crystallinity index, has been preserved. Given the described local conditions, the increase in the crystallinity index cannot be linked to exchanges with the environment but clearly reflects the decrease of CO3radicals in the bone material. A correlation is suggested between the crystallinity index and the residual content of organic matter. The14C dates obtained for the carbonate hydroxylapatite are identical to those of the material of comparison (leather, charcoal and associated collagen samples). We can therefore conclude that the potential carbon isotopic exchanges—either by adsorption of by substitution—between the carbonate hydroxylapatite on the one hand and the total dissolved inorganic carbon (TDIC) on the other, are too insignificant to be detectable through analysis. These results can be explained by the combining of two favourable factors: the waterproof nature of the graves and the arid climate. The dating of carbonate hydroxylapatite in the restricted conditions already described opens new prospects for establishing a chronology of the principal funerary monuments of the Sahara.
Article
Low β15N values of Würmian cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) bone collagen indicate a strictly vegetarian diet, and negative δ13C values suggest a forested habitat. Tooth collagen δ15N values are about 2%0 higher than bone collagen within one individual, similar to that found in the modern black bear (Ursus americanus). These data suggest an influence of a 15N-enriched milk diet during the synthesis of tooth collagen, which is partly formed before weaning. Thus, tooth collagen δ15N values are not reliable for adult diet reconstruction. Tooth collagen δ13C values are around 1%0 lower than bone collagen, suggesting a 13C-depleted milk diet. A similar pattern of variation is seen in the average δ13C and δ15N values of several individuals from one locality.Enamel carbonate hydroxylapatite δ13C values are low in cave bears (around −14%0) when compared to carnivores (around −12%0) and herbivores (−10%0). This is probably due to lipid use while hibernating during winter. A similar pattern of enamel carbonate hydroxylapatite δ13C values differences is found between Deninger's bear (Ursus deningeri), carnivores and herbivores in 200,000 to 600,000 year old caves, suggesting a similar physiology for both fossil bear species.
Article
¹³C/¹²C ratios have been determined for plant tissue from 104 species representing 60 families. Higher plants fall into two categories, those with low δPDBI¹³C values (—24 to —34‰) and those with high δ ¹³C values (—6 to —19‰). Algae have δ ¹³C values of —12 to —23‰. Photosynthetic fractionation leading to such values is discussed.
Article
Additional data is presented to show that plants of genera which are known to follow the C4-dicarboxylic acid pathway in photosynthetic carbon dioxide fixation have δ 13C values in the −10 to −20‰ range. Plants which follow the Calvin cycle in photosynthesis have δ 13C values of −22 to −33‰. Plants of families which show Crassulacean acid metabolism also have many examples enriched in 13C.
Article
TheC/Nratio and amino acid composition of organic matter extracted from fossil mammal bones from the Paleolithic site at Marillac (Charentes, France) shown that this organic matter comes from collagen.δ13Candδ15Nvalues of known-diet fossil species demonstrate that these values have been preserved through fossilization processes, and that these fossil mammals can be used as ecological references to determine the Neandertal position in the past food web. Initial Neandertalδ13Candδ15N values suggest that he was mostly carnivorous.RésuméLes rapportsC/N et le spectre d'accides amine´s de la matie`re organique extraite des ossements de mammife`res fossiles du site de Marillac (Charentes, France) montrent que cette matie`re organique provient du collage`ne. Les valeurs deδ13Cet deδ15N de mammaife`res fossiles dont le re´gime alimentaire est connu de´montrent que ces valeurs n'ont pase´te´alte´re´es par la fossilisation et donc ces mammifr`es fossiles peuvent servir de standardse´cologiques pour replacer l'Homme de Ne´anderthal dans son re´seau trophique. Les premie`res valeurs deδ13C et deδ15N mesure´es pour cet homme sugge`rent qu'ile´tait essentiellement carnivore.
Article
Small differences in natural isotope ratios between two compounds can be measured easily and with high precision by using mass spectrometers fitted with double (or triple) ion collectors and dual inlet systems equipped for rapid switching between reference and sample1–3. The parameter used to describe these differences in natural 15N abundance is: where R is the isotopic ratio of m/z = 29(14N15N+) to m/z = 28(14N14N+). Although an international standard for nitrogen has not yet been defined, atmospheric N2 had been chosen through practical experience, even before the worldwide homogeneity of its isotopic composition was demonstrated4–7. However, the presence of argon (≃1%) in purified air samples may, in some circumstances, modify the apparent isotope ratio of atmospheric N2. Two different mass spectrometers in our laboratory have been used to assess the magnitude of this ‘argon effect’, which seems to be essentially an instrumental, presumably pressure-related, effect. Therefore, on mass spectrometers showing this argon effect it is imperative that a correction be applied to measurements of δ 15N of atmospheric N2. However, in some circumstances (different mass spectrometers, different tuning of the same instrument) this effect can be non-existent or negligible and might require no correction whatsoever.
Article
Since its introduction in 19771, stable isotope analysis of bone collagen has been widely used to reconstruct aspects of prehistoric human and animal diets2–11. This method of dietary analysis is based on two well-established observations, and on an assumption that has never been tested. The first observation is that bone collagen 13C/12C and 15N/14N ratios reflect the corresponding isotope ratio of an animal's diet1–5,12. The second is that groups of foods have characteristically different 13C/12C and/or 15N/14N ratios13,14. Taken together, the two observations indicate that the isotope ratios of collagen in the bones of a living animal reflect the amounts of these groups of foods that the animal ate. Thus, it has been possible to use fresh bone collagen 13C/12C ratios to determine the relative consumption of C3 and C4 plants15–17, while 13C/12C and 15N/14N ratios have been used to distinguish between the use of marine and terrestrial foods14. The 15N/14N ratios of fresh bone collagen probably also reflect the use of leguminous and non-leguminous plants as food5, but this has not yet been demonstrated. Prehistoric consumption of these same groups of foods has been reconstructed from isotope ratios of collagen extracted from fossil bone1–11. Implicit in the application of the isotopic method to prehistoric material is the assumption that bone collagen isotope ratios have not been modified by postmortem processes. Here I present the first examination of the validity of this assumption. The results show that postmortem alteration of bone collagen isotope ratios does occur, but that it is possible to identify prehistoric bones whose collagen has not undergone such alteration.
Article
Behavioural modifications associated with the exploitation of new food resources have been linked to major steps in hominid evolution and in subsequent human cultural development1,2. Testing of specific hypotheses concerning the influence of dietary change on these processes would be facilitated by quantitative estimates of early hominid and human diets. Although most methods of obtaining such evidence provide only qualitative information2, the stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios of animal tissues, and in particular, bone collagen, can be used to quantify the consumption of foods having different isotopic compositions3–5. As reported here, analysis of the collagen of historic and prehistoric African human populations from Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa that have reasonably well-known diets shows that stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios in bone collagen can distinguish marine foragers from populations consuming terrestrial resources, pastoralists from farmers, farmers consuming grains from those consuming non-grain crops, and camel pastoralists from capri-bovine pastoralists.
Article
Discusses the analysis and interpretation of a Roman period mummy from the World Heritage Museum at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Small samples of wrapping fabric, wooden board, and crystallized resins were taken from the feet of the mummy. Embalming resins were analyzed and characterized by FABMS (fast atom bombardment mass spectrometry). The resin was found to be based on pine pitch (oxidized forms of abietic acid were identified). The wrapping fabrics were analyzed by macroscopic examination, solubility, and longitudinal and cross-sectional scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Inner wrapping fabrics were found to be woven from flax fiber, but the outer bundle was made from ramie. Bone fragments were collected and characterized by stable isotope analysis. The analysis of the mummy's delta13C (a measure of the ratio of carbon isotopes 13 and 12) from collagen and carbonate sources were consistent with a C3 type diet (bread and onions) as opposed to a C4 diet.
Article
The relationship between temperature and O18 content relative to that for a Cretaceous belemnite of the Pee Dee formation previously reported (Epstein, Buchsbaum, Lowenstam, and Urey, 1951) has been re-determined using modified procedures for removing organic matter from shells, and is found to be difference in per mil of the ratio between the sample and reference gas. The new relationship agrees with that determined by McCrea (1950) for inorganically precipitated calcium carbonate. Carbonate-carbon dioxide exchange experiments were done to determine the direct and indirect effects of organic matter in the shell on the mass spectrometer analyses.
Article
The oxygen-isotope data obtained from BiPO4 samples fluorinated in silver-soldered metal lines are systematically more negative than those obtained by fluorination in a line assembled with flareless fittings. Because of this the phosphate-water isotopic temperature scale has been revised by studying 27 samples of shells of living marine organisms from different areas. The slope of the calculated equation is practically identical to that of the carbonate equation.
Article
The stable isotope ratios of carbon in bones and in foodstuffs burned into pots provide a record of Man's prehistoric diet. - after Author prehistoric man diet carbon pots foodstuffs
Article
The temperature variation of the fractionation of oxygen in exchange reactions between dissolved carbonate and water and between calcite and water and calculated on theoretical grounds, and checked experimentally. In the course of the experiments it was necessary to investigate several methods of decomposing calcium carbonate to carbon dioxide for mass spectrometer analysis. A method was developed for growing calcium carbonate from solution with the same isotopic composition as the carbonate shells of organisms produced at the same temperature from water of the same isotopic composition, and the results of these experiments at various temperatures are expressed in an equation relating the temperature of formation with the isotopic composition of the calcium carbonate and of the water.
Article
The oxygen isotopic composition of phosphate (δ18Op) and structural carbonate (δ18Oc) of hydroxylapatite was determined in 31 bone and tooth samples of modern mammals from different countries. These two variables are highly correlate (r2 = 0.98) and the calculated best fit of linear regression is very similar to the equation calculated from the phosphate and carbonate palaeotemperature equations [1,2]. According to previous measurements [3–6] on fossils of different ages from different areas it seems quite improbable to find isotopically altered skeletal remains showing a good correlation between δ18Op and δ18Oc, as is the case with modern samples. It therefore seems possible, at least in some cases, to use these measurements for monitoring fossil bone and tooth diagenetic alteration. When a set of points lie on the equilibrium line or close to it, the δ18O values could be considered close to the original values. In contrast, when the points lie to the left or to the right of this line this probably means that the values are diagenetically modified, due to interaction with meteoric water or18O-enriched water, respectively.
Article
Amino acid content of bone was measured to determine whether it would yield more information than measurement of the total nitrogen content in dating human bone. There appeared to be a simple linear relationship between the amino acid content of the bone and its nitrogen content, and in view of the difficulties encountered with amino acid analysis, determination of the nitrogen weight percentage proved a more reliable and efficient means of determining relative bone age.
Article
This case study deals with the recovery of collagen break-down products from a badly preserved bone from the site of Minshat Abu Omar, eastern Nile delta. The organic remains had been sealed into a hardly soluble mineral matter, which was the result of decomposition, recrystallization and structural reorganization of the bone's mineral matrix. An explanation for the succession of protein degradation and preservation, including preferential loss of individual amino acids, is suggested. In addition, the results show that the term “NCP” is probably insufficiently defined for archaeological bone.
Article
Proteins extracted from both bones and teeth found in archaeological contexts are used for radiocarbon dating, amino acid racemization age at death determinations, and genetic and dietary studies. The changes induced in these proteins as a result of decomposition by known micro-organisms have been little studied. The decomposition pathways of these proteins, and indeed the organisms involved, have not been comprehensively defined. This paper attempts to suggest which types of micro-organisms are likely to be involved in this decomposition and outlines their characteristics. This paper also describes the use of bone and tooth, with their associated soils, from various archaeological contexts, as source material for the isolation of fungi and bacteria by enrichment culture at 10°C. Samples from various soil types and archaeological periods were included in the trial. Bacterial and fungal isolates that tested positive for a collagenase were identified. Decomposition studies, which continue, are outlined.
Article
A morphological investigation has been carried out on the osteoclastic activity revealed by a fungus of theMucor genus on buried bone. The hallmark of its activity in eroding bone is the finding of resorption pits and boring channels whose walls are sharp and well calcified up to the free edge, suggesting that bone resorption affects crystallites and the organic matrix simultaneously. Unlike normal osteoclastic cells, the fungal membrane in contact with the bone shows no brush border. As the electron microscope reveals no migration of material to the fungal membrane and its protoplasm, the view is expressed that the material which reaches the fungus has been previously solubilized. There is good reason for supposing that a substance capable of solubilizing the inorganic bone fraction spreads freely through bone tissue, decalcifying the matrix, where, but only where, hyphae show the effects of ageing. All the findings are thoroughly discussed and compared with those furnished by the boring channels in fossil bone.
Article
The stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios of bone collagen have been used to trace diet and habitat selection of the larger mammals of East Africa. 238 individuals of 43 species from montane forests and grasslands in Kenya and Tanzania have been analyzed. The results show that carbon isotopes discriminate between (1) grazers and browsers in savanna grasslands, (2) forest floor and savanna grassland herbivores and (3) forest floor and forest canopy species. Nitrogen isotopes discriminate between (4) carnivores and herbivores, (5) forest and savanna grassland herbivores, and (6) water-dependent and drought-tolerant herbivores. This technique provides a quantitative approach to assessing long-term habitat and diet selection and the role of resource partitioning in animal community structure.