In Situ σ18O Analysis of Human Tooth Enamel

23rd November 2014

James, HannahOxygen isotopes are a provenancing tool for human migration. Measuring δ18O values in human tooth enamel provides a direct indication of the local environment during an individual’s childhood. This information can form pictures of prehistoric and historical human migration. Conventional δ18O measurements of tooth enamel involve analysing the carbonate fraction of bound oxygen, which accounts for less than 10% of the overall oxygen in the enamel. Use of the Sensitive High Resolution Ion Microprobe (SHRIMP ) allows for analysis on all bound oxygen and the small sample size allows for multiple measurements across the thickness of the enamel. Variation in the δ18O values is seen across the tooth enamel and is a remnant of the tooth enamel formation process. This two-stage process involves the layered formation of a mineral-poor matrix structure then an increase in the inorganic content to create a highly mineralised structure. In situ analysis allows for investigation of this phenomenon, which may indicate seasonality in δ18O values, migration, cultural changes or diagenesis. This poster will discuss the use of in situ measurements in archaeological and modern tooth samples and compare these analyses to conventional carbonate analysis.

Citation for this poster:

James, H. 2014 In Situ σ18O Analysis of Human Tooth Enamel. Poster Presented at the AAA/ASHA Annual Conference, 1-3 December, Cairns.

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