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Bronze age childhood migration of individuals near Stonehenge, revealed by strontium and oxygen isotope tooth enamel analysis

Evans, Jane; Chenery, Carolyn; Fitzpatrick, AP. 2006 Bronze age childhood migration of individuals near Stonehenge, revealed by strontium and oxygen isotope tooth enamel analysis. Archaeometry, 48 (2). 309-321. 10.1111/j.1475-4754.2006.00258.x

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Abstract/Summary

Contrasting lifestyles are recorded by the isotope composition of Bronze Age Beaker people (c. 2500–2000 bc) from three burial sites (Boscombe Down, Normanton Down and the ditch around Stonehenge) at or near to the Stonehenge monument in Wiltshire, southern England. Seven individuals (three adults, a sub-adult, two juveniles and an infant) were recovered from a single grave at Boscombe Down. Strontium and oxygen isotope analysis of tooth enamel from two teeth (a premolar and third molar) from each of three of the adults in this grave (referred to as Boscombe Bowmen) show that they had all shared a pattern of mobility and migration during their lives. The three adult males spent their early childhood (as represented by data from the premolar teeth) in an area with a radiogenic 87Sr/86Sr isotope signature of around 0.7135. They each then moved, during early adolescence (as represented by the third molar results), to a less radiogenic area, where they acquired an 87Sr/86Sr signature of around 0.7112. This implies that they must then have travelled to the Stonehenge area of Wiltshire at a later time in their lives. Wales provides the closest area with rocks that supply suitable 87Sr/86Sr ratios and δ18O isotope compositions for these individuals, although other areas of Palaeozoic rock, such as Scotland and parts of Europe, cannot be ruled out. Enamel from the two juveniles from the Boscombe Down burial yields 87Sr/86Sr ratios of 0.7098 and 0.7099, and strontium concentrations for both of 55 ppm. The very close match of the data for the two juveniles supports the possibility that they were raised in the same environment. The difference in strontium isotope data between the juveniles and three adult males described above shows that the children did not come from the same homeland as the adults with whom they share a grave. The two adult males from the single burials at Normanton Down, and from Stonehenge itself, had static lifestyles and show no evidence of migration, in contrast to the Boscombe Bowmen. Their oxygen and strontium data are consistent with a childhood in the Stonehenge area.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1111/j.1475-4754.2006.00258.x
Programmes: BGS Programmes > NERC Isotope Geoscience Laboratory
Additional Keywords: Oxygen -- Isotopes, Strontium -- Isotopes, Archaeological dating, Bronze Age, 87Sr/86Sr , δ18O , Isotopes, Migration, Beaker, Stonehenge
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Archaeology
Date made live: 04 Jul 2007 10:34
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/600

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