Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses, weaning, juvenile, subadult, intra individual isotopic variation of humerus and femur, bioarchaeology, alytus, lithuania, diet, medieval
Establishing a chronology of variation in isotopic values can reveal frailty associated with biological and social age, as well as highlight individuals who vary from typical patterns. Although general dietary characteristics and infant feeding practices were previously unknown for subadults excavated from the cemetery at Alytus, Lithuania (14th-18th centuries), previous research concludes that Alytus' subadults experienced high rates of physiological, metabolic, non-specific stress, in addition to specific diseases like tuberculosis. To investigate nuanced relationships between diet and mortality, nitrogen and carbon stable isotopes from the femoral and humeral midshaft diaphyses of 70 subadults (32 weeks gestation to16 years) were analyzed. Dietary reconstruction reveals that on average, exclusive breastfeeding continued until around 2 years of age when enriched ?13C (-19.6‰) and ?15N values (12.7‰) begin to deplete suggesting introduction of C3 grain gruels and potential weaning-associated infirmity. Nitrogen values remained slightly elevated in children (3-5 years, 11.2‰) until the beginning of juvenility (5-8 years, 10.3‰) when ?15N more closely mirrored adult values (16 years, 10.2‰), consistent with predominant consumption of terrestrial animal protein, possibly with riverine influence. The difference between femoral to humeral ? F-H 13C (-0.05 ±0.25‰, 1?) and ? F-H 15N (- 0.01±0.45‰, 1?) was not significant, though humeral values were on average more enriched. Enrichments in humeral nitrogen and carbon coincided with estimated weaning age. Cohorts experiencing childhood and adolescent growth spurts experienced higher femoral ?13C and ?15N values. Examining dietary experience and physiological changes contributes a holistic understanding of subadult morbidity and mortality experiences in Medieval Lithuania.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Page, Katherine, "Bioarchaeological assessment of diet and changes in femoral and humeral stable isotopic values among subadults at Medieval Alytus, Lithuania." (2014). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1290.