The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)


Strontium tells all at Tell Dothan: exploring migration with strontium isotope analysis

SANA T. SAIYED1, JESSICA R. HOFFMANN2, JAMES P.W. CARTWRIGHT3, LESLEY A. GREGORICKA4, JAIME M. ULLINGER5 and SUSAN G. SHERIDAN6.

1Department of Anthropology, Wellesley College, 2Department of Anthropology, College of Charleston, 3Department of Anthropology, Lawrence University, 4Department of Anthropology, The Ohio State University, 5Department of Sociology, Quinnipiac University, 6Department of Anthropology, University of Notre Dame

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Strontium (87Sr/86Sr) isotope signatures from human enamel samples were compared to those of archaeological fauna from Tell Dothan in the southern Levant to track mobility during the Late Bronze (1550-1200 BCE) and Early Iron (1200-900 BCE) Ages. This study predicted a high incidence of migration spanning both periods due to the city’s geohistorical context. Located near a major trade route, Tell Dothan was likely influenced by an influx of immigrants who may have been interred in local tombs. Human dental enamel (LM1; n=20) was utilized to expand on a previous study (LM3; n=24) of the same commingled collection. A subsample (n=5) of in situ first and third molars was also tested to evaluate temporal shifts in mobility within the lifetime of single individuals.

A local range of 0.70817±0.00017 (2σ) was established for Tell Dothan using archaeological faunal enamel (n=4). Only one individual sampled (0.70766) fell outside this range. A general comparison of 87Sr/86Sr ratios between all isolated first (0.70815±0.00006, 1σ) and third (0.70812±0.00010, 1σ) molars showed no significant difference (Mann-Whitney U test, p=0.44). Additionally, no significant change in 87Sr/86Sr value was detected between the in situ first and third molars (p=0.75). These comparisons indicate that most people buried at Tell Dothan were of local origin and spent their childhood and early adult life at the site. While texts describe Tell Dothan as a trading hub, immigrants in general were not buried locally.

This research was supported by the National Science Foundation-Research Experiences for Undergraduates (SES #1005158) Summer Research in Bioarchaeology Program at the University of Notre Dame.

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