This research explores the diet and weaning patterns of non-adult individuals from an elite Meroitic (300 BCE – 350 CE) cemetery (8-B-52.B) at Sai Island, Sudan. This was accomplished by conducting stable isotopic analyses of carbon and nitrogen on a sample of 54 individuals. These analyses focused on differences in adult and non-adult diet, non-adult weaning patterns, and intra-elite differences between contemporaneous cemeteries at Sai Island in order to shed light on the patterns of non-adult diet and weaning and the mother-infant dynamic. The non-adult individuals range from 36 weeks gestational age to 16.5 years of age, and the adult individuals ranged from 18 to 60 years of age. The non-adult individuals were divided into five age categories based on physiological stages of childhood to explore life course changes. The isotopic values for each individual and age category were analyzed and compared to determine the diet and weaning patterns of this sample. The results suggest that the adults and non-adults were consuming a homogenous diet with the exception of breastfeeding children, who exhibited enriched d15N and d13C values compared to the other adults and non-adults in the sample. The isotopic data suggest that non-adults in this sample were likely weaned by 3 years of age as inferred from the assimilation of non-adult d15N values to those exhibited by adult females. Lastly, no statistically significant differences in non-adult diet and weaning existed between the contemporaneous sites 8-B-52.B and 8-B-5.A on Sai Island, suggesting homogenous patterns of diet and weaning between the religious and wealthy elite in this population. This study demonstrates the relationship between social status, age, and dietary patterns during the Meroitic period, but more significantly illustrates the patterns of early life feeding and weaning behaviors that influence the relationship between a mother and her infant.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Raisor, Brenna, "Meroitic Childhood Diet and Weaning at Sai Island, Sudan: A Carbon and Nitrogen Isotopic Study of Site 8-B-52.B" (2020). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 120.