Anthropology, University of Alberta
Saturday 8:15-8:30, Ballroom B
This study reconstructs diet from the late medieval Fishergate House cemetery site (York, UK) using nitrogen and carbon stable isotope analysis. The Fishergate House site is composed primarily of the urban poor. Rib collagen of 51 juveniles (fetal to 5 - 6 years of age) and 11 adult females (of reproductive age) were analyzed using traditional methods. A new microsampling method for deciduous tooth dentine was also tested on the sample to reconstruct the pattern of early childhood diet and individuals patterns of diet. This new method allows the reconstruction of diet from samples with very small sample size (.3 mg). Deciduous teeth from 42 subadults individuals, most of whom also contributed rib samples, were also used. The goal of this study was to determine the weaning age for this population and provide a reconstruction of childhood diet for Fishergate House. The results of both methods showed that weaning at the site was complete by around 2 years of age, agreeing with previous studies of Britain during the late medieval period. The weaned diet was different from the diet reconstructed for the adult females. This diet appears to be enriched in high trophic level protein, likely marine fish, when compared to the normal female diet.
This project was funded by the Wenner Gren Foundation (Dissertation Fieldwork Grant) and by the Medieval Academy of America/Richard III Society (Schallek Award).