Project Title: Increasing the temporal resolution of animal movements – a comparative study of LA and microdrilling for Sr-isotope profiling of herbivore teeth
Institution: Durham University, CASE partnership with the British Geological Survey (BGS)
I graduated in 2015 with a first-class degree in Archaeology (BSc) from Durham University, where I was awarded the Gibson Prize for the best dissertation in British Archaeology. I continued my studies at Durham, graduating with an MSc in Archaeological Sciences in 2017.
The analysis of the ratio of 87Sr/86Sr from archaeological human and animal remains can create direct evidence of mobility in the past. Strontium can substitute for calcium in the lattice matrix of bioapatite in tooth enamel. The 87Sr/86Sr ratios expressed in tooth enamel relate to the 87Sr/86Sr values of the underlying geology where an individual sourced their food. Herbivores, such as cattle, have high-crowned (hypsodont) molars which take up to 1 year to form, creating a record of the animal’s diet and mobility during that period.
Using laser ablation multicollector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-MC-ICP-MS) to analyse 87Sr/86Sr ratios allows for faster analysis, with less sample preparation, than traditional methods. However, this method is currently hindered by several interferences caused by the inability to easily remove molecules with the same mass as the strontium isotopes, and current correction equations do not consider variable strontium concentrations across the enamel. I aim to characterise and correct for one of these molecular interferences: CaPO+, to create high-resolution, time-corrected 87Sr/86Sr values which will allow for the identification of seasonal movements. I will then use this to carry out 87Sr/86Sr LA-MC-ICP-MS analysis on cattle teeth from six European Neolithic Causewayed Enclosures, from Britain, France and Denmark. Causewayed Enclosures are the earliest evidence of enclosing space in northern Europe, and the organisation of labour required to do so. Significant quantities of animal remains, especially cattle, are often recovered from these sites. Analysing these animal remains can create a better understanding of the husbandry practices surrounding them and the role of these animals in the lives of the Neolithic people who built and used these monuments.
Rogers, B., Gron, K., Montgomery, J., Gröcke, D.R. & Rowley-Conwy, P. (2018). Aurochs Hunters: The Animal Bones from Blick Mead. In Blick Mead: Exploring the ‘first place’ in the Stonehenge landscape: Archaeological excavations at Blick Mead, Amesbury, Wiltshire 2005-2016. Jacques, D., Lyons, T. & Phillips, T. Peter Lang.
Rogers, B., D. Gröcke, K. Gron, J. Montgomery, P. Rowley-Conwy and D. Jacques. (2016) Stable Isotope Analysis of the Blick Mead Dog: A Proxy for the Dietary Reconstruction of Mesolithic Hunter-Gatherers – International Symposium of Bioarchaeology 7 (Oxford) September 2016 – poster
Rogers, B., J. Towers, J. Montgomery, W. Patterson, S. Timsic, D. Orton and P.A. Rowley-Conwy. (2017) Challenging the assumptions in isotopic profiling of herbivore teeth: a modern comparative intra- and inter-lobe study of the Chillingham cattle – UK Archaeological Science Conference (UCL) April 2017 – poster
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Departmental Webpage: https://www.dur.ac.uk/archaeology/staff/?mode=staff&id=16611