Humans and Camelids in River Oases of the Ica–Palpa–Nazca Region in Pre-Hispanic Times – Insights from H-C-N-O-S-Sr Isotope Signatures
Thirty years ago the use of isotope abundance ratios (IR) of bioelements in nutrition studies was a rather young discipline (Krueger and Sullivan 1984). Developed from hydrology, geochemistry, cosmo- and geochronometry isotope studies became a fertile tool also in other fields, and had an especially productive impact on archaeology, respectively, archaeometry (Koch et al. 1994; Buikstra et al. 2005).
The advantage of isotopic parameters is that they are much more insensitive to often unknown influences compared to elemental concentrations or concentration ratios, where one has to deal with ambiguities which arise from differences in chemical properties of the elements. In contrast, IR of elements from various environments (including plants and bodies of animals and humans) are rather predictable or comprehensive after many studies although much remains to be done in this direction. The state of the art in isotope systematics has been presented in several monographs (Kendall and McDonnell 1998; Valley and Cole 2001; Johnson et al. 2004) and in journal articles (Schmidt 2003; Hölzl et al. 2004, and many articles in Analytical Bioanalytical Chemistry 2004).
The main objectives of isotope applications in archaeometry are to gain insights into ecosystems and food webs on which once-settling human groups and their animals subsisted, to find out about migrations and relations with trade partners from near and far, and to find hints to reasons why long-lasting socioeconomic evolutions and developments ultimately came to an end after a steep and rapid decline which had been interpreted empirically from archaeological and geomorphological evidence.
KeywordsArchaeological Site Burial Site Global Meteoric Water Line Evaporation Line Wool Sample
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