Through Bared Teeth: Using Incremental Dentine and Enamel Sampling and Isotopic Analyses to Recreate In-Life Mobility Patterns and Diet in Prehistoric Humans.

Activity: Other › Written proposal


Isotopic analyses have cemented themselves as an important tool within the archaeological field. Their application to human remains has revolutionised our understanding of the diets and migration patterns of past populations. However, methodologies are confined to certain limiting parameters. Most notably, it is the common representation of an individual’s isotopic record from a singular sample, and, as such, a singular isotopic ratio. Whilst this does provide a valid isotopic average over a lifetime, it assumes that both diet and geographic inhabitancy remain a constant, and, consequently, is unable to detect changes in consumption and inhabitation over time.

As the aim of this project is to reconstruct the lifeways of prehistoric European populations and investigate how diets and in-life geographic mobility vary with age and season, it is a requirement to overcome this limitation of traditional isotopic analyses. To this end, the project will construct a sampling methodology that allows for multi-isotopic values to be analysed over a sequenced period of life. This will be performed through the incremental sampling of human enamel and dentine from the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd molars, which will be analysed to reveal their sequenced isotopic (H, C, N, O, S, Sr) values. This methodology will be applied to human remains from across Europe, with results enabling an understanding of how prehistoric populations constructed their lifeways dependant on culture and their enviroment.
Period28 Feb 2021
Held atFWO Aspirant, Belgium