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Keywords:

  • stable isotope;
  • bone;
  • diet;
  • gender;
  • status

Abstract

We present the results of stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of bone collagen for 155 individuals buried at the Later Medieval (13th to early 16th century AD) Gilbertine priory of St. Andrew, Fishergate in the city of York (UK). The data show significant variation in the consumption of marine foods between males and females as well as between individuals buried in different areas of the priory. Specifically, individuals from the crossing of the church and the cloister garth had consumed significantly less marine protein than those from other locations. Isotope data for four individuals diagnosed with diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) are consistent with a diet rich in animal protein. We also observe that isotopic signals of individuals with perimortem sharp force trauma are unusual in the context of the Fishergate dataset. We discuss possible explanations for these patterns and suggest that there may have been a specialist hospital or a local tradition of burying victims of violent conflict at the priory. The results demonstrate how the integration of archaeological, osteological, and isotopic data can provide novel information about Medieval burial and society. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.