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Isotopic evidence for anthropogenic lead exposure on a 17th/18th century Barbadian plantation

Laffoon, JE; Shuler, K; Millard, AR; Connelly, JN; Schroeder, H

Isotopic evidence for anthropogenic lead exposure on a 17th/18th century Barbadian plantation Thumbnail


Authors

JE Laffoon

K Shuler

JN Connelly

H Schroeder



Abstract

Objectives: To identify and characterize anthropogenic lead sources on a 17th/18th century Barbadian plantation and to test if lead isotope analyses can be used to identify the geographic origins of first‐generation African captives. Materials and Methods: We carried out lead (Pb) isotope analyses on dental enamel samples from 24 individuals from the Newton Plantation Cemetery in Barbados, which had previously been analyzed for strontium (Sr) and oxygen (O) isotope composition (Schroeder et al., American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 2009, 139:547–557) and Pb concentrations (Schroeder et al., American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 2013, 150:203–209. Results: We are able to identify British Pb sources, and more specifically Bristol/Mendips Pb, as the most likely source of anthropogenic Pb on the plantation, highlighting the impact of the British Atlantic economy on the lives of enslaved peoples in Barbados during the period of plantation slavery. Furthermore, we find that there is only one clear outlier among seven individuals who had previously been identified as African‐born based on their enamel Sr isotope composition (Schroeder et al., American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 2009, 139:547–557). All other individuals present a very homogenous Pb isotope composition, which overlaps with that of British Pb sources. Conclusion: Our results indicate that while Pb isotope analyses can help identify and further characterize the sources of anthropogenic Pb in plantation settings, they might not be suited for identifying the origins of African‐born individuals in diasporic contexts.

Citation

Laffoon, J., Shuler, K., Millard, A., Connelly, J., & Schroeder, H. (2020). Isotopic evidence for anthropogenic lead exposure on a 17th/18th century Barbadian plantation. American journal of physical anthropology, 171(3), 529-538. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.23938

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 11, 2019
Online Publication Date Oct 16, 2019
Publication Date Mar 31, 2020
Deposit Date Oct 3, 2019
Publicly Available Date Oct 18, 2019
Journal American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Print ISSN 0002-9483
Electronic ISSN 1096-8644
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 171
Issue 3
Pages 529-538
DOI https://doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.23938

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Publisher Licence URL
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Copyright Statement
Advance online version This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. © 2019 The Authors. American Journal of Physical Anthropology published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.






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