Author(s): Byrne KB, Parris DC
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Abstract In order to reconstruct the diet of various occupations of Middle Woodland Amerindians at Abbott Farm, New Jersey, nine different trace-element analyses were performed on bone specimens from the site. Contemporary bone specimens were also used as controls. Specimens of human bone from the site exhibited lower strontium levels and strontium-to-calcium ratios than deer specimens from the same site, reinforcing paleodemographic evidence that the human populations that inhabited this site included substantial amounts of meat in their diets. Strong evidence for diagenetic enrichment of strontium was also found. Copper levels were not affected by diagenesis, but dietary discrimination was not clear for this element. The results for lead were too inconsistent to permit conclusions. Magnesium levels were clearly depleted by diagenesis, suggesting that this element is less useful than others in dietary reconstruction studies. Manganese concentrations were greatly enriched by diagenesis, rendering this element useless in dietary reconstruction. Molybdenum was absent from virtually every specimen. Excellent dietary discrimination was found for sodium, despite significant leaching. Zinc was not affected by diagenesis, but interpretation of results was hampered by its complex metabolism in mammals. The results also suggest that the Middle Woodland aboriginal residents of Abbott Farm ate little seafood and utilized grain or other plants that contain phytate as a food source.
This article was published in Am J Phys Anthropol
and referenced in Journal of Obesity & Weight Loss Therapy