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The Use of Multiple Isotope Signatures in Reconstructing Prehistoric Human Diet from Archaeological Bone from the Pacific and New Zealand

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Document pages: 68 pages

Abstract: The isotopes δ13C, δ15N and δ34S were determined in a wide range of modern plants and the flesh of animals of relevance to prehistoric archaeological studies in the tropical Pacific and New Zealand. This was followed by similar analyses of collagen extract from both animal and human bones. Twenty-one human groups throughout the Pacific and New Zealand were examined, five from New Zealand in some detail. A stochastic simulation technique was used to estimate the relative dietary proportions of five basic groups of food: land plants, land animals, marine shellfish, marine fish, marine mammals. The contribution of both food weight and caloric energy from each of these foods is estimated in the diet of the communities examined. Finally, estimates are provided for the proportions of caloric energy deriving from protein, fat and carbohydrate in the diet.

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