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Keywords:

  • STRONTIUM ISOTOPES;
  • TEXTILES;
  • PROVENANCE;
  • HAIR;
  • WOOL;
  • TRACE ELEMENTS

Strontium isotopes are used in archaeology to reconstruct human and animal migration routes. We present results of a pilot study applying strontium isotope analyses to modern sheep hair as a basis for its potential use as a provenance tracer for ancient woollen textiles. Our hydrofluoric acid-based, lipid soluble analytical protocol, also tested on a number of ancient textile fibres, allows for contamination-free, low blank strontium isotope analysis of minimal amounts of archaeological material. 87Sr/86Sr ratios of decontaminated sheep hair agree well with the compositions of biologically available (soluble) strontium fractions from the respective feeding ground soils, a translatable requirement for any potentially successful provenance tracing applied to wool textiles.