This research explores dietary patterns of elite non-adults from the Meroitic period (300 BC – AD 350) located in Sai Island, Sudan. The cemetery (8-B-5.A) is believed to have been in use during the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. Non-adults were chosen because they offer a unique, and often ignored, perspective into customs of past populations. Children require significant energy, which impacts how society feeds and cares for their young. Knowledge of their elite status in society will be consider to explore how this subset of the population may have differed in behavior. A significant factor of child life is access to food. One way to examine this aspect of past populations is to reconstruct infant weaning and feeding patterns using stable isotope analysis. This study analyzes stable nitrogen and carbon isotopes from the bone collagen of 31 non-adult individuals, ranging in age from 38 weeks to 16 years. Stable nitrogen isotopes are used to identify if the infants have higher trophic levels than their mothers, an indication of breastfeeding, and stable carbon isotopes are used to identify potential weaning foods. Taken together, and compared against sample ages, the longevity of the weaning process is considered, particularly when compared to adult male and female isotope values. Isotopic results indicate that non-adults in this population were weaned between 2-4 years of age and weaning foods were a combination of C3 and C4 plant food sources. Significant variation in isotope values was found in the younger non-adults, which indicates a potential difference in weaning style. These results can be built upon in further studies to further explore the motives of elite Meroitic parents.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Gregoire, Rachel, "Estimation of Weaning Patterns in the Elite Meroitic Population (8-B-5.A) from Sai Island, Sudan Using Stable Nitrogen and Carbon Isotopes" (2019). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 6491.