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An investigation of cattle birth seasonality using δ13C and δ18O profiles within first molar enamel

Towers, J.; Gledhill, A.; Bond, J.; Montgomery, J.

An investigation of cattle birth seasonality using δ13C and δ18O profiles within first molar enamel Thumbnail


J. Towers

A. Gledhill

J. Bond


Cattle (Bos taurus) are biologically able to breed year-round, potentially giving farmers the freedom to choose a calving strategy to best meet their economic goals. Thus, an accurate method to determine cattle birth seasonality from archaeological remains would prove to be a valuable tool when investigating a prehistoric farming community. This paper presents the results of intra-tooth isotope ratio analysis (δ18O, δ13C) of first, second and third molars from 15 cattle. The principal outcome is a possible new approach to determining cattle birth seasonality utilizing both carbon and oxygen isotope ratio measurements of first molar enamel. Although this technique requires verification through more extensive testing, particularly of modern material, initial results suggest that it may produce more accurate predictions of birth seasonality than techniques based on intra-tooth δ18O measurements of second and third molars.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jul 28, 2014
Deposit Date Jan 15, 2014
Publicly Available Date Jan 22, 2014
Journal Archaeometry
Print ISSN 0003-813X
Electronic ISSN 1475-4754
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 56
Issue S1
Pages 208-236
Keywords Tooth enamel, Molar formation, Cattle, Birth seasonality, Oxygen, Carbon, Isotope, Ratio analysis.
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Accepted Journal Article (1 Mb)

Copyright Statement
This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Towers, J., Gledhill, A., Bond, J. and Montgomery, J. (2014), An Investigation of Cattle Birth Seasonality using δ13C and δ18O Profiles within First Molar Enamel. Archaeometry, 56: 208-236, 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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