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Land use and mobility during the Neolithic in Wales explored using isotope analysis of tooth enamel

Neil, Samantha; Montgomery, Janet; Evans, Jane; Cook, Gordon T.; Scarre, Chris

Land use and mobility during the Neolithic in Wales explored using isotope analysis of tooth enamel Thumbnail


Authors

Samantha Neil

Jane Evans

Gordon T. Cook

Chris Scarre



Abstract

Objectives: The nature of land use and mobility during the transition to agriculture has often been debated. Here, we use isotope analysis of tooth enamel from human populations buried in two different Neolithic burial monuments, Penywyrlod and Ty Isaf, in south-east Wales, to examine patterns of land use and to evaluate where individuals obtained their childhood diet. Materials and Methods: We employ strontium (87Sr/86Sr) and oxygen (δ18O) and carbon (δ13C) isotope analysis of enamel from adjacent molars. We compare strontium isotope values measured in enamel to locally bioavailable 87Sr/86Sr values. We combine discussion of these results with evaluation of new radiocarbon dates obtained from both sites. Results: The majority of enamel samples from Penywyrlod have strontium isotope ratios above 0.7140. In contrast, the majority of those from Ty Isaf have 87Sr/86Sr values below 0.7140. At Penywyrlod oxygen isotope ratios range between 25.9 and 28.2 ‰ (mean 26.7 ± 0.6 ‰, 1σ, n = 15) and enamel δ13Ccarbonate values range between −18.0 and −15.0 ‰ (mean −16.0 ± 0.8 ‰, 1σ, n = 15). At Ty Isaf oxygen isotope ratios exhibited by Neolithic individuals range between 25.4 and 27.7 ‰ (mean 26.7 ± 0.6 ‰, 1σ, n = 15) and enamel δ13Ccarbonate values range between −16.9 and −14.9 ‰ (mean −16.0 ± 0.6 ‰, 1σ, n = 15). Discussion: The strontium isotope results suggest that the majority of individuals buried at Penywyrlod did not source their childhood diet locally. One individual in this group has strontium isotope ratios that exceed all current known biosphere values within England and Wales. This individual is radiocarbon dated to the first few centuries of the 4th millennium BC, consistent with the period in which agriculture was initiated in Wales: the results therefore provide evidence for migration during the transition to farming in Wales. In contrast, all individuals sampled from Ty Isaf post-date the period in which agriculture is considered to have been initiated and could have sourced their childhood diet from the local region in which they were buried.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 23, 2017
Online Publication Date Jul 28, 2017
Publication Date Oct 1, 2017
Deposit Date Mar 21, 2017
Publicly Available Date Aug 2, 2017
Journal American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Print ISSN 0002-9483
Electronic ISSN 1096-8644
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 164
Issue 2
Pages 371-393
DOI https://doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.23279
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/1390496

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Published Journal Article (Advance online version) (3 Mb)
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Publisher Licence URL
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Copyright Statement
Advance online version © 2017 The Authors American Journal of Physical Anthropology Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. 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.





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