Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The impact of diet and health on bone stable isotope ratios : a comparative study
Author: Curto, Ana
ISNI:       0000 0004 8499 7660
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2019
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
There is a bidirectional interaction across nutrition, infection and immunity. While good nutrition increases the immune system's response, immune deficits following malnutrition early in life have been shown to persist for weeks and even years. This study combines osteological and archaeometric analysis providing significant novel perspectives on the synergy between diet and health exploring stable isotope analysis. It is intended to assess whether stable isotope analysis can be used as a tool to study the impact of diet on the individuals' susceptibility to pathogens. This study will help understanding the physiological mechanisms of stress and disease prior to the advent of modern medicine and antibiotics, as well as improve dietary isotope data interpretation. The samples under study were recovered from Santa Maria do Olival, Tomar, Portugal (11th - 17th centuries). Stable isotope analyses were performed to 66 skeletons, 33 individuals without macroscopic indicators of physiological stress or skeletal lesions and 33 individuals with skeletal lesions of possible infectious origin (n=23) or healed fracture calluses (n=10). Stable isotope analyses were also preformed to fauna remains (n=13) to estimate the baseline diet. The individuals with lesions were divided into active (n=6) and healed lesions (n=7), a combination of active and healed lesions (n=10) and fracture calluses (n=10) and the data compared with sites within the same bone without lesions. In total 134 samples (94 from long bones, 27 from ribs, 13 from faunal remains) were used for stable isotope analyses. Carbon (δ13C), nitrogen (δ15N) and sulphur (δ34S) stable isotopes were used to estimate the diet at Tomar. δ13C and δ15N values were compared between individuals with and without lesions and non-lesion and lesion sites were also compared within the same bone. The diet at Tomar was complex (δ13C=-18.6±0.5‰, δ15N=10.8±0.8‰, δ34S=13.1±1.5‰), low in terrestrial animal protein and high in aquatic protein intake, despite its inland location. No statistically significant differences (p > 0.05) were found between sexes or socio-economic status. δ15N differed significantly between skeletons with non-specific generalised infections (δ13C=-18.7±0.8‰, δ15N=9.9±0.4‰) and those with only healed tibial periosteal reactions (p < 0.003, d 13C=-18.0±1.1‰, d 15N=10.9±0.7‰) or without lesions (p < 0.004, d 13C=-18.6±0.5‰, d 15N=10.8±0.8‰). No significant differences were noticed between sexes. Bone segments with active lesions (d15N=11.1±0.9‰) had higher d 15N than those without lesions (d15N=10.7±0.7‰), a statistically significant increase of 0.4‰, t(13)=-2.58, p=0.02. Individuals with unspecific generalised infections potentially had less access to animal protein than those without lesions or only healed periostitis. Still, no signs of protein catabolism were observed in the bones without lesions but the same was not true to bone growths that grew during or after the disease. The increase in d 15N seen in active lesions, when compared with d15N from non-lesion regions on the same long bone, may be a consequence of altered protein metabolism. These results suggest that different diets may be linked to an individual's susceptibility to pathogens and that intra-bone stable isotope variation may be related to different diets and/or metabolism during or after the disease. Stable isotopes can help better understanding diseases in the past and the individuals' response to the diseases in the absence of modern medicine and antibiotics.
Supervisor: Fahy, Geraldine ; Mahoney, Patrick Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: GN Anthropology