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Childhood “stress” and stable isotope life-histories in Transylvania

Crowder, Kayla; Montgomery, Janet; Gröcke, Darren; Filipek, Kori

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Kayla Crowder


Aims and Objectives: Macroscopic skeletal analysis and stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses were employed to examine the relationship between skeletal “stress” lesions and changes in the isotopic life‐history profiles of six non‐adults from the Gepid population buried at the Archiud “Hânsuri” Cemetery (4th–7th Cent AD). Materials and Methods: The Gepids were a migratory barbarian population in the Carpathian Mountain basin of Transylvania, Romania. Macroscopic skeletal analysis was conducted on 32 individuals and of those, six non‐adults were selected for stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of incrementally sampled dentine. Results: Macroscopic skeletal analyses revealed 47% of the analysed population displayed evidence of childhood stress. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ranges were ‐17.7 to ‐11.8‰ for δ13C and 9.4 to 15.1‰ for δ15N. Discussion: The overall dietary profile indicates a mixed terrestrial diet (C3/C4) with increased consumption of C4 plants during adolescence. The six non‐adults appear to have been breastfed from one to six months and weaned by three years of age. High δ15N values seen in pre‐ and post‐natal increments may suggest a level of nutritional/physiological stress during gestation, and during the transitions from umbilical nutrients, breastmilk, and weaning foods. Although limited by the small sample size, this study supports the link between elevated δ15N values and nutritional stress, the relationship and timing of skeletal lesions with changes in the isotope profiles and was among the first to combine palaeopathological analyses and incremental stable isotope analyses on the Transylvania Gepids.


Crowder, K., Montgomery, J., Gröcke, D., & Filipek, K. (2019). Childhood “stress” and stable isotope life-histories in Transylvania. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 29(4), 644-653.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 26, 2019
Online Publication Date May 27, 2019
Publication Date Aug 22, 2019
Deposit Date Jan 28, 2019
Publicly Available Date May 27, 2020
Journal International Journal of Osteoarchaeology
Print ISSN 1047-482X
Electronic ISSN 1099-1212
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 29
Issue 4
Pages 644-653


Accepted Journal Article (1 Mb)

Copyright Statement
This is the accepted version of the following article: Crowder, Kayla, Montgomery, Janet, Gröcke, Darren & Filipek, Kori (2019). Childhood “stress” and stable isotope life-histories in Transylvania. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 29(4): 644-653, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.

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