Journal of Archaeological Research

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 265–293

What's in a bone? Recent advances in archaeological bone chemistry

  • M. Anne Katzenberg
  • Roman G. Harrison

DOI: 10.1007/BF02229154

Cite this article as:
Katzenberg, M.A. & Harrison, R.G. J Archaeol Res (1997) 5: 265. doi:10.1007/BF02229154


This paper focuses on advances in archaeological bone chemistry since 1989. At that time studies generally shifted from development and application of techniques in bone chemistry to more experimental approaches. In stable isotope studies, controlled feeding experiments have been carried out to determine the routing of various dietary components into bone tissues. Biological apatite has been added to collagen as a tissue of study for stable carbon isotope analysis, providing the ability to study much older remains. Other elements have been added such as hydrogen for the study of paleoclimate and oxygen and strontium isotopes to study life history. Trace element studies have focused on methods of detecting and controlling for diagenesis, and barium has been added to the list of useful dietary indicators. Attempts to extract DNA from archaeological bone have been successful, however, this field is still in its early stages in terms of applications to understanding prehistoric biological relationships.

Key words

stable isotopes trace elements paleodiet bone chemistry 

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Anne Katzenberg
    • 1
  • Roman G. Harrison
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ArchaeologyUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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