Advanced search  
Pages: [1]   Go Down

Author Topic: Isotopic analysis of the bone fragments  (Read 8000 times)

John Kada

  • T3
  • ***
  • Posts: 110
Isotopic analysis of the bone fragments
« on: January 19, 2011, 11:53:15 PM »


In the event that the DNA analysis of the bone fragments is inconclusive, I would like to suggest that they be subjected to strontium and perhaps oxygen isotopic analysis. Archeologists have for some time used Strontium isotopic analyisis of human bones and teeth to determine whether human remains found at sites were local residents visitors from far away. Strontium isotopic analysis of the Niku bone fragments could similarly indicate whether they are from coral reef dwelling Pacific islanders or people from farther away.

The basic idea here is that 'you are what you eat', ie. the isotopic content of  human or animal bones and teeth record the isotopic composition of the food they eat. There are measurable geographic variations in the strontium isotopic composition of the earth's landscape (ie. rocks, soils, water) and so therefore there are geographic variations in the isotopic composition of the bones and teeth of animals and plants.  The strontium isotopic composition of people who have spent their entire lives living on coral atolls should be quite similar to the strontium isotopic composition of the sea, and would be measurably different than the strontium isotopic composition of the bones and teeth of North Americans (e.g. AE and FN).

Bones that have been exposed for decades to the elements on Niku might isotopically equilibrate with the local environment, so if the strontium isotopic content of the bone fragments matches is that of the local environment, we can’t conclusively rule out that the bones are not those of a non-atoll dweller, but on the other hand if the strontium isotopic composition of the bone fragments is measurably different from that of the local Niku enviroment, that would strongly indicate that they came from an individual who lived somewhere other than a reef environment, as of course AE and FN did. Strontium isotopic anaysis would not prove that the bone fragments came from AE or FN , but they would be those of an ‘exotic’ individual.

Anyone interested in learning more about applications of isotopic analyses  to archeology can easily find more information via Google.
Logged

Chris Johnson

  • T5
  • *****
  • Posts: 1069
  • Trying to give a fig but would settle for $100,000
Re: Isotopic analysis of the bone fragments
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2011, 02:29:51 AM »

I beleive (can't find exact link but remember reading it) that they used this method on the crew of the CSS Hunley.  However they did have more bone's as well as teeth and something nags me hat teeth are the most important part of this.

Infact i'm sure that recent archealogical surveys in the UK used this method to identify where Roman Gladiators found in a mass grave in York came from.
Logged

Chris Johnson

  • T5
  • *****
  • Posts: 1069
  • Trying to give a fig but would settle for $100,000
Re: Isotopic analysis of the bone fragments
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2011, 04:20:38 PM »

well oncei've sorted a paypall acount out i'll be signing up.  No credit card and i'm sure Ric could only find one use for a UK postal order  ;)
Logged

John Kada

  • T3
  • ***
  • Posts: 110
Re: Isotopic analysis of the bone fragments
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2011, 10:14:14 PM »

In light of the inconclusive DNA results obtained so far it is worth mentioning that Sr isotopic analysis could potentially be done using only a  small fraction of the half a gram or so (according to the AP story I read) of bone fragments that remains. I imagine a few milligrams of bone would contain sufficient strontium for analysis, although this is not to say that any randomly chosen milligram portion of the bone fragments would be suitable for analysis. Handling the sample to obtain a portion for Sr isotope analysis might also introduce human DNA, so that is a potential risk as well, but I think it would be worthwhile for Tighar to consult with a scientist who has experience doing strontium isotopic analysis of bone. And why not analyze some of the pseudo-coprolite as well?...
Logged
Pages: [1]   Go Up
 

Copyright 2019 by TIGHAR, a non-profit foundation. No portion of the TIGHAR Website may be reproduced by xerographic, photographic, digital or any other means for any purpose. No portion of the TIGHAR Website may be stored in a retrieval system, copied, transmitted or transferred in any form or by any means, whether electronic, mechanical, digital, photographic, magnetic or otherwise, for any purpose without the express, written permission of TIGHAR. All rights reserved.

Contact us at: info@tighar.org • Phone: 610-467-1937 • Membership formwebmaster@tighar.org

Powered by MySQL SMF 2.0.15 | SMF © 2017, Simple Machines Powered by PHP