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Keywords:

  • migration;
  • trade;
  • 87Sr/86Sr;
  • dental enamel;
  • horn core;
  • statistics

Abstract

While geologically significant differences of strontium (Sr) isotopic ratios in dental enamel and compact bone from adult human skeletal finds will be basically indicative of an individual residence change between early childhood and adulthood, hardly any information will be available with regard to the approximate individual age at migration. Due to several problems still associated with microsampling techniques, bulk analyses of appositionally grown mineralized tissues were analysed for 87Sr/86Sr ratios in an attempt to mathematically define the ontogenetic stage at individual residence change in historical times. This pilot study presents the results obtained from serial analyses of whole enamel from human permanent dentitions from a Roman fortress site in Germany, and serial sampling of a horn core from a long-horned ox from an early modern horn core site in Austria. In the first case, more detailed information was expected with regard to population admixture in the Roman provinces, while the horn core analysis was performed in an attempt to shed light on mode and velocity of long distance trade of domestic animals. A mathematical approximation served for the definition of the most likely individual age when Sr with a new isotopic composition first shows up in the course of tissue precipitation. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.