Delta44/42Ca of modern human and animal samples as foundation research to address questions of dairying and dairy consumption in the archaeological record

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  • Delta44/42Ca of modern human and animal samples as foundation research to address questions of dairying and dairy consumption in the archaeological record

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Title


Delta44/42Ca of modern human and animal samples as foundation research to address questions of dairying and dairy consumption in the archaeological record

Subject

S3-3, The development and specialisation of dairying practices, poster

Description

Abstract:

The advent of dairy products as a food source during the Neolithic made available a new source of calcium for humans that, in comparison to other foods, was and remains the greatest natural supplier of this key element. In addition to dairy foods providing significant quantities of calcium they also have an isotopic behaviour related to trophic level change. Calcium isotope ratios become altered as calcium moves through the ‘food chain’ and in biological systems heavier calcium isotopes are discriminated against resulting in isotopic fractionation. This especially holds true with incorporation of calcium isotopes into human and animal milk and bone, so that milk and bone have lower d44/42Ca than the dietary input. As a result dairy consuming humans should have a bone d44/42Ca signature that is distinguishable from non-dairy consuming humans in the archaeological record.

Experimental research has shown however that it is not that simple to determine dairy consumption by humans in the archaeological record. In an effort to better understand human and animal calcium metabolism, this work focuses on calcium isotopes of modern human and animal samples (diet, hair/wool, milk, and dental tissue) to look at questions of weaning age and pattern, the difference between fauna and humans and to address the difficulties of detecting dairy consuming and non-dairy consuming humans. This work is a necessary foundation for studying dairying and dairy consumption in the archaeological record.

Authors:

WRIGHT Carrie1, HEDGES Robert1, REYNARD Linda1, 2 and HENDERSON Gideon2

Affiliations

1 Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford, Dyson Perrins Building, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3QY, UK,
carrie.wright@rlaha.ox.ac.uk
2 Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PR, UK

Creator

Wright, Carrie
Hedges, Robert
Reynard, Linda
Henderson, Gideon

Date

August 2010

Contribution Form

Document Item Type Metadata

Citation

Wright, Carrie, Hedges, Robert, Reynard, Linda and Henderson, Gideon. " Delta44/42Ca of modern human and animal samples as foundation research to address questions of dairying and dairy consumption in the archaeological record ," in BoneCommons, Item #1655, http://alexandriaarchive.org/bonecommons/items/show/1655 (accessed August 7, 2020).