Trace element analysis of skeletal remains and teeth is a common research technique in biological and forensic anthropology. In particular, LA-ICP-MS has become a widely-accepted tool for analyzing and mapping the distribution of trace elements in teeth. Investigation into the relative spectral intensities and spatial distribution of thirteen trace isotopes (13C, 24Mg, 27Al, 31P, 44Ca, 47Ti, 52Cr, 55Mn, 56Fe, 66Zn, 88Sr, 138Ba, 208Pb) within teeth was undertaken using LA-ICP-MS. The total archaeological sample of teeth (N=26) was comprised of four tooth types (UCI, ULI, UPM1, and UPM2) and 18 individuals from a Postclassic Lamanai site. In preparation for analysis, teeth sectioned down the center using a low-speed saw. Maps were created using the laser ablation system and MATLAB software. The frequency of each isotope detected at low, moderate, and high intensities at each of the six defined tooth locations was calculated. The inner dentine and the outer root border were the two areas that most commonly exhibited the highest intensities of isotopes. Detection of major structural isotopes (44Ca and 31P) was similar in both spatial locations and relative intensity across all teeth. In comparison, detection of more minor isotopes, while similar in spatial locations across all teeth, varied in relative intensity per individual sample. The frequency that each isotope was detected also varied by tooth type. These findings demonstrate the disparities between different types of dental tissue for retaining trace elements and serve to illuminate possible sources of external exposure and internal bioavailability influencing interindividual variation within the Lamanai sample population. Variation in isotope frequency based on tooth type may be due to developmental properties and/or changes in diet during early life. Ultimately, teeth act as storehouses of trace elements, and maps of isotopic distribution in teeth help reveal how individuals are influenced by both biological processes and cultural activities.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Hawkins, Michelle, "An Assessment of Trace Elements Distribution in Teeth Utilizing a Sample Group from Postclassic Lamanai: The Application of LA-ICP-MS in Bioarchaeology and Forensics" (2017). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 5738.