Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Why fish when you could farm? A stable isotope analysis of changing diet and ritual killing in the Virú Valley, Peru
Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses were performed on individuals from the Virú Valley, Peru to better understand the people and society in this region of early-state development. This analysis also sheds light on the lives of individuals from a ritual killing event at Huaca Santa Clara. Bone collagen stable isotope analysis revealed that all individuals had diets predominantly based on terrestrial resources, while incremental hair segments, skin, tendon, and nails revealed that marine resources made small, non-seasonal contributions to the diet. The prioritization of farming over fishing in the Virú Valley may be indicative of the economic specialization of agricultural and marine subsistence practices by distinct communities and the tendency of state-level societies to monopolize agricultural resources. The isotopic compositions of the individuals from the Huaca Santa Clara ritual killing event showed no evidence of a controlled diet before their death and identified a likely migrant to Virú. Author Keywords: Diet, Early Intermediate Period, Early-State Development, North Coast Peru, Ritual Killing Event, Stable Isotope Analysis
Testing the Validity of Dental Calculus as a Proxy to Bone in Paleodietary Studies Using Stable Isotope Analysis
This study investigates the use of dental calculus for paleodietary studies using stable isotope analysis of a skeletal sample from the Greek colonial site of Apollonia Pontica, Bulgaria (5th to 3rd century BC). A sample of 27 individuals was used to examine the δ13C and δ15N values of paired dental calculus and bone samples, and the dental calculus was analyzed as separate organic and inorganic components. No significant correlation was found between the δ13C values of either the bone collagen and organic dental calculus samples, or the bone apatite and inorganic dental calculus samples. A significant correlation was found between the δ15N values of the bone collagen and organic dental calculus samples; however, the reason for this correlation is unclear. A greater range of variation in the δ13C and δ15N values was found in the organic dental calculus samples compared to the respective bone collagen samples. These results suggest that dental calculus is not an appropriate proxy to bone for paleodietary studies using stable isotope analysis and that any dietary signal is clouded by other data. The oral microbiome is considerably diverse and is the most probable explanation for the great range of stable isotope values obtained from dental calculus. A significant, strong correlation was found between the C/N ratios and δ15N values of the organic dental calculus samples, suggesting that the lowest C/N ratios and δ15N values depict deposits with the least bacterial alteration. Author Keywords: carbon, dental calculus, nitrogen, paleodietary studies, Social Sciences, stable isotopes
Childhood diet and feeding practices at Apollonia
This study analyses deciduous dental pathology and stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes to investigate the relationship between dietary composition, feeding practices, and oral health in a subadult skeletal sample from the Greek colonial site of Apollonia Pontica, Bulgaria (5th to 3rd century BC). Stable isotope analysis of 74 bone collagen samples indicates that weaning began between the ages of 6 months and 1 year, and was complete by the age of 4. The stable isotope data are consistent with a diet of primarily terrestrial C3 resources. The deciduous dentitions of 85 individuals aged between 8.5 months and 10.5 years were examined for evidence of a number of pathological conditions. The presence of dental caries, calculus, occlusal tooth wear and an abscess indicate that foods introduced early in life affected the oral health of these individuals. Overall, the deciduous dental data correlate well with the stable isotope data and ancient textual sources regarding infant and childhood dietary composition and feeding practices. Author Keywords: breastfeeding, deciduous dentition, dental pathology, stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes, weaning

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