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Isotopic Evidence for Diet in the Seventeenth-Century Colonial Chesapeake

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Douglas H. Ubelaker
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, MRC 112, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 20560
Douglas W. Owsley
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, MRC 112, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 20560

Abstract

Excavations of colonial period sites in Maryland and Virginia have produced human remains dating to the seventeenth century. In this study, we analyze stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen from these remains to explore aspects of the diets of the individuals represented. Analyses of both stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes were conducted on preserved protein while stable carbon isotope analysis was also conducted on preserved biological apatite. Carbon isotope values (δ13N‰) ranged from -10.5 to -20.5 for collagen and -5.1 to -12.5 for bioapatite. Nitrogen isotope values (δ15N‰) ranged from 9.9 to 14.4. The data suggest dietary diversity among the individuals examined. Three factors contribute to this diversity: the availability of maize, variation in immigration histories of the individuals, and the differing lengths of time they spent in the American colonies.

Résumé

Résumé

Excavaciones en Maryland y Virginia del periodo colonial han producido huesos humanos fechados en el siglo diez y siete. Este estudio utiliza un análisis de isótopos de carbono y nitrógeno para investigar varios aspectos de las dietas de los individuos representados. Los análisis de carbono y de nitrógeno fueron conducidos usando la proteína preservada y solo el análisis isotópico de carbono fue tambieén conducido con apatita biológica preservada. Los resultados indican una dieta diversa. Tres factores contribuyen a esta diversidad: la presencia de maíz, la variación en las historias de inmigración de los individuos, y la variabilidad del tiempo que los individuos estaban ubicados en las colonias.

Type
Reports
Copyright
Copyright © The Society for American Archaeology 2003

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