6. Stable Isotopes

  1. Terry Brown and
  2. Keri Brown

Published Online: 27 APR 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9781444392449.ch6

Biomolecular Archaeology: An Introduction

Biomolecular Archaeology: An Introduction

How to Cite

Brown, T. and Brown, K. (2011) Stable Isotopes, in Biomolecular Archaeology: An Introduction, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444392449.ch6

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 27 APR 2011
  2. Published Print: 4 FEB 2011

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405179607

Online ISBN: 9781444392449



  • stable isotopes, analysis of carbon, nitrogen and oxygen - components of biomolecular archaeology;
  • diet rich in marine resources - distinguished from diet, of terrestrial animal protein;
  • isotopes and isotopic fractionation;
  • naturally occurring isotopes - elements relevant to biomolecular archaeology;
  • oxygen ratios, measured against PDB - or with “standard mean ocean water” (SMOW);
  • carbon fractionation in biosphere - maize in diet, identified;
  • carbon and nitrogen isotopes - marine diet distinguished;
  • nitrogen isotope fractionation in biosphere;
  • strontium and oxygen isotopes - information on human mobility;
  • oxygen and strontium isotope ratios - measured by mass spectrometry


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Isotopes and Isotopic Fractionation

  • Carbon and Nitrogen Isotope Fractionations Enable Past Human Diets to be Studied

  • Practical Aspects of Stable Isotope Studies