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Title: A tale of two cities : diet, health and migration in post-medieval Coventry and Chelsea through biographical reconstruction, osteoarchaeology and isotope biogeochemistry
Author: Trickett, Mark Anthony
ISNI:       0000 0001 3536 4152
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2006
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Biogeochemical research has over the past four-and-a-half decades improved our understanding of human interaction with past environments. The application of different isotope systems has allowed archaeologists to interpret ancient diet, migration and pollution. Although well established in archaeology, biogeochemical interpretations are burdened with questions not only as to the methodology employed but also whether the data presents a consistent picture of past human activity. The use of biographically identifiable individuals offers a means by which the isotope systems may be tested against extent documentary evidence. A sample of forty-five individuals, almost half of which were named individuals, were obtained from the sites of Holy Trinity (Coventry) and St. Luke's (Old Street, Chelsea) and the stable isotopes of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, strontium and lead analysed. The biographies ofthe named individuals were reconstructed through analysis ofextant historical documentation and' used to provide a framework of interpretation for the biogeochemical teclmiques applied. Comparisons are made between the two sites in relation to the biogeochemical techniques employed, biographical reconstruction and osteoarchaeological evidence for disease, migration and diet to address methodological issues and broader questions on 'i,ndustrialisation' during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The osteoarchaeological evidence suggests separation of the two groups into discrete' populations, one that is characterised by occupationally-derived osteoarthropathies (Coventry), and the second, Chelsea, which has an absence of these pathologies. This supports the historical character of the t\VO cities: Coventry as an industrial city in contrast to Chelsea, a 'village of palaces' or pleasure resort. Biogeochemically, carbon and nitrogen isotopes revealed a picture of status-based access to protein resources in a diet that is particularly dominated by freshwater fish, terrestrial omnivores such as pig, or a combination of the two. There is, however, little evidence for a difference in access to such resources between the sexes. Likewise, strontium and oxygen isotopes are capable of differentiating between the two populations and therefore in identifying local and migrant individuals, though limitations in the sample prevent the full utilisation of this data. In one case (Milborough Maxwell) the isotopic techniques \vere able to reveal trans-Atlantic migration between England and the Caribbean. Analysis of lead isotopes of the two populations indicates that while there is little to differentiate the two sites, heavy metal exposure is greater for the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries than for previous periods.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available