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Title: An isotopic and historical study of diet and migration during the great Irish Potato Famine (1845-1852) : high-resolution carbon and nitrogen isotope profiling of teeth to investigate migration and short-term dietary change at the Union workhouse, Kilkenny and Lukin street, London
Author: Beaumont, Julia
Awarding Body: University of Bradford
Current Institution: University of Bradford
Date of Award: 2013
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Historical evidence from contemporary documents established that Irish migrants to London during the Great Irish Famine (1845-1852) were likely to come from low socio-economic groups in south-west Ireland, and has characterised mid-19th-century health status and living conditions in both locations. Using samples from 119 individuals from the Catholic cemetery at Lukin Street, London (1843-1854) and 20 from the Union Workhouse Famine cemetery, Kilkenny, Ireland (1847-51), mean bone collagen isotope values were established for the well-documented Irish pre-Famine potato-based diet (δ¹⁵N 10.6‰, δ¹³C -19.1‰), and the diet of contemporaneous Londoners (δ¹⁵N 12.6‰, δ¹³C -19.1‰). The introduction of maize as a short-term Famine relief food was identified in three Kilkenny juveniles with bone collagen δ¹³C above -17‰, and incremental dentine collagen demonstrating temporal changes in δ¹³C consistent with dietary change from C3 to C4 plants. Bone collagen values for two Lukin Street individuals were consistent with high marine protein consumption. Techniques developed in this study to sample increments of dentine representing nine months or less of life have improved temporal resolution not only for migration events but also short-term dietary changes and physiological status during childhood. Combining epigraphic, osteological and archaeological evidence, individual 'lifeways' have been constructed using isotope data and provide insights into the connection between health, diet and skeletal manifestations of deprivation during childhood and adolescence. New models are investigated for examining maternal and infant health using dentine collagen increments formed in utero and combining dentine and bone collagen values to explore the effects of nutritional stress on bone turnover.
Supervisor: Montgomery, Janet A.; Wilson, Andrew S. Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council ; British Federation of Women Graduates ; British Association for Biological, Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Stable isotopes ; England ; Ireland ; Maize ; Bone ; Collagen ; Dentine ; Palaeodiet ; Great Irish Famine (1845-1852) ; Irish Potato Famine ; Nutritional stress ; Dietary changes ; Physiological status ; Stable isotope analysis ; Hair keratin