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

Human dietary and mobility patterns of a prehistoric population from Sigatoka, Fiji: a reconstruction using stable isotope analysis


1Department of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, 2Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University, 3Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany

Thursday 4:15-4:30, Galleria North Add to calendar

This paper will explore dietary change and human movement/migration patterns of prehistoric humans interred at the site of Sigatoka, Viti Levu, Fiji through the isotope analysis of human and faunal skeletal material. Our dataset includes human tooth enamel and bone collagen samples of 52 individuals interred at the western and eastern burial groups at Sigatoka, which span four discrete periods of occupation, as well as a series of faunal remains excavated from the site. The aim of this study was to investigate (1) the proportion of marine versus terrestrial protein fraction of the diet through an analysis of stable carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) values of human bone collagen; (2) the fraction of local versus foreign individuals at the site through an analysis of strontium (87Sr/86Sr) values in human tooth enamel; and (3) differences in diet in relation to sex, age, or place of birth through a comparison of isotopic values with previous osteological and mortuary analyses of the burials at Sigatoka. The results of our analyses suggest a diet consisting of mixed marine/terrestrial resources, and while the majority of individuals appear to be local, eight individuals produced non-local strontium signatures relative to local bioavailable strontium values. Although no clear patterns of diet or mobility in relation to age, sex, or occupation period were revealed, our results imply that both marine and terrestrial resources played an important part in the subsistence strategies of prehistoric Fijians, and that some inter or intra-island migration was occurring.

This study was funded by the Department of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, NSERC, and the Max Planck Society.

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