Loaves or fishes? Reconstructing individual 5000-year-old dietary histories for the children of Shetland's first farmers

Start: Mar 24, 2014 04:00 PM

Location: Room 612, Institute of Archaeology

The view from southern Shetland to Fair Isle in the South

Janet Montgomery (University of Durham) will give the final seminar in the Term II Institute Research Seminar series on Isotopes in Archaeology on 24 March.


Stable isotope analyses of Mesolithic and Neolithic human bone collagen from northern and western Europe demonstrate a sharp shift away from the consumption of marine foods at the onset of the Neolithic. However, there is an apparent contradiction between the isotope data and the archaeological record as some coastal sites contain thousands of marine ecofacts. Previous work has utilised adult human bone collagen which represents an average of many years diet and provides only blurred temporal focus. Using our recently published method of incremental dentine analysis, this talk will focus on the earliest Neolithic agriculturalists from the Shetland Isles, northern Scotland: the most remote island group to be colonized by Mesolithic and Neolithic people. Using progressively higher-resolution δ13C and δ15N measurements of bone, bulk dentine and incremental dentine samples the dietary histories of individual children were brought into sharper focus and provide hitherto unseen evidence for annual variation in diet which cannot be seen in bone isotope data.

The seminar will take place at 4pm in Room 612 at the Institute and will be followed by a reception in the Staff Common Room (Room 609).

All welcome!

Any enquiries about the seminar series may be directed to Ian Freestone.

Institute Research Seminar Programme | Isotopes in Archaeology