Isotopes dating archaeological finds
These processes are carried out to extract the "pure" bone collagen from additional components that make up bone, such as lipids and proteins.
When investigating mobility, these isotopes are used to determine if a person or animal is "local" to a particular area by comparing the isotopic values from bone and dental enamel of the specimen with local isotopic values that must be established for that specific geographic location. When archaeological bone material is poorly preserved there may not be enough surviving biological material left for the analysis to be reliable.However, in cases where the bones are well preserved, the isotopic signatures are considered to be representative of the individual specimen (either human or animal) that is being studied.The isotopes most widely studied to address these questions are Carbon-13 ( isotopes.The exploration of isotopic identifiers of mobility, environment, and subsistence in the past also has contemporary relevance in that it can aid in informing policies relating to heritage protection, resource management and, sustainability and perhaps most significantly, help us to learn more about the remarkable ability of our own species to adapt and survive in any number of environmental and cultural circumstances.For example, one of the most widely studied aspects of human diet in North America has been the investigation of the introduction and development of maize agriculture (farming) as a major form of subsistence in the New World.
Carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes are those most widely used for dietary reconstructions.
Isotopic analysis is used in a variety of fields across the sciences, such as Geology, Biology, Organic Chemistry, and Ecology.
Archaeology, which is situated between the hard natural sciences and social sciences, has adapted the techniques developed in these fields to answer both archaeological and anthropological questions that span the globe over both time and space.
The mass spectrometer works by measuring the masses and relative concentrations of atoms and molecules.
These are compared using standard reference materials that are set by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.
Variation and adaptation in subsistence (or diet) can be stimulated by developments in socio-political and economic circumstances, as well as by climate and ecological transitions and even by individual choice.