The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

High spatial resolution isotopic analysis of human primary bone: New methods for reconstructing short-term environmental and dietary change using the endosteal lamellar pocket


1Department of Anthropology, Western University, London Ontario, Canada, 2Department of Earth Sciences, Western University, London Ontario, Canada

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Stable isotopic research has contributed greatly to our understanding of past human lifestyles, environs, and health. Incrementally growing tissues such as fingernails and hair have yielded time series data that enable the reconstruction of ancient short-term geographical relocation and dietary seasonality. Unfortunately, these tissues are rarely preserved relative to bone and bone is so microstructurally complex that its isotopy has been limited to bulk techniques that obscure short-term data, until now. Recent histomorphological findings uncovering predictable patterns in sequential primary bone growth could be combined with high spatial resolution isotopic methods to permit these detailed time-series inquiries in human long bones. Specifically, three techniques for testing the endosteal lamellar pocket, a remnant of bone modelling drift during growth, are compared here: microdrilling, infrared laser ablation, and ion probe isotopy. Results and discussion further develop methods offering a previously impossible degree of direct interrelation among environmental, behavioural, and biological circumstance, augmenting our inquiry of past populations.

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