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Title: Calcium isotopes in sheep dental enamel : a new approach to studying weaning and dairying in the archaeological record
Author: Wright, Carrie Carlota
ISNI:       0000 0004 5362 2030
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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Calcium isotope ratios (44Ca/42Ca) have shown promise as a milk dietary tracer. Previous studies have focused on bone but, due to homeostatic processes, δ44/42Ca values are highly variable. This has greatly complicated the identification of mammal milk consumption through bone analysis, resulting in a search for an alternative. This thesis describes controlled studies to assess the effects of milk consumption on δ44/42Ca values in bulk and sequential samples of dental enamel, using modern samples from Yorkshire, England, the Isle of Hoy, Scotland, and archaeological samples from Abu Hureyra, Syria. The samples from Yorkshire consisted of dental enamel, ewe milk, feed and bone. Dental enamel was sampled from the Hoy sheep. Milk and plants are the greatest contributors of calcium in the mammal diet. Feed and ewe milk samples confirmed that milk has lower δ44/42Ca values than plants in the diet, and with a common diet between ewes, uniform milk δ44/42Ca values are produced. Also, there is a significant difference between bulk molar enamel δ44/42Ca values between males and females, with males having higher values. Additionally, analysis of bulk and sequential samples of Hoy mature sheep molar enamel, although mass fractionation effects were small, produced δ44/42Ca values with a clear isotopic offset between the enamel likely formed during nursing, weaning and the full conversion to a plant diet. The δ44/42Ca values, once associated with dental development chronologies, led to the identification of a clear pattern of nursing and weaning in the enamel of the first and second molars of sheep with known dietary and weaning histories. The modern results were used to identify patterns of ancient nursing and weaning. Although evidence was insufficient to establish early weaning of the Abu Hureyra sheep, this research successfully established the potential of this approach for investigating milk production and consumption in the archaeological record.
Supervisor: Lee-Thorp, Julia; Hedges, Robert Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Archeology ; Archaeological Science ; Dietary Isotopes ; Calcium isotopes ; dental enamel ; bone ; milk ; weaning ; dairying ; Neolithic