Strontium isotopes and concentrations in cremated bones suggest an increased salt consumption in Gallo-Roman diet

Christophe Snoeck, Amanda Sengeløv, Kevin Salesse, Marta Hlad, Rica Annaert, Tom Boonants, Mathieu Boudin, Giacomo Capuzzo, Carina Gerritzen, Steven Goderis, Charlotte Sabaux, Elisavet Stamataki, Martine Vercauteren, Barbara Veselka, Eugene Warmenbol, Guy De Mulder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The high temperatures reached during cremation lead to the destruction of organic matter preventing the use of traditional isotopic methods for dietary reconstructions. Still, strontium isotope (87Sr/86Sr) and concentration ([Sr]) analyses of cremated human remains offer a novel way to assess changing consumption patterns in past populations that practiced cremation, as evidenced by a large amount of new data obtained from Metal Ages and Gallo-Roman human remains from Destelbergen, Belgium. The Gallo-Roman results show significantly higher [Sr] and a narrower interquartile range in 87Sr/86Sr (0.7093–0.7095), close to the value of modern-day seawater (0.7092). This contrasts with the Metal Ages results, which display lower concentrations and a wider range in 87Sr/86Sr (0.7094–0.7098). This typical Sr signature is also reflected in other sites and is most likely related to an introduction of marine Sr in the form of salt as a food preservative (e.g. salt-rich preserved meat, fish and fish sauce). Paradoxically, this study highlights caution is needed when using 87Sr/86Sr for palaeomobility studies in populations with high salt consumption.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9280
Number of pages12
JournalScientific Reports
Volume12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2022

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