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

Age as a Factor in Inter-Tissue Spacing of Stable Carbon Isotopes in Juvenile Human Remains


1School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, 2Department of Anthropology, University of Central Florida, 3Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University

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Analyses of stable isotopes from different tissue types within the same individual reveal disparate isotopic values for a variety of physiological and biological reasons. The effects of growth, development and tissue turnover rates on these values are not well understood. Utilizing data collected from 52 well-preserved juvenile human remains from Kellis 2 Cemetery (c. 100-360 AD) in the Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt, this project examines how the distances between the δ13C values in bone collagen, skin, hair, and nail, vary between different age groups. Three age cohorts were chosen along developmental lines: 1-4 years, 5-10 years, and 11-15 years. The mean carbon isotope values for each tissue were compared across each age group, and used to calculate the differences between each tissue type. Although distances between tissues were found to vary across all age categories, the distances between collagen and hair, collagen and skin, and collagen and nail are all substantially greater in the 11-15 year cohort than those in the 1-4 and 5-10 year cohorts. Possible physiological, developmental and social factors are discussed in an effort to explain this discrepancy, in particular the possible effects of the adolescent growth spurt, and nutritional or other physiological stress.

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