A new paper co-authored by the UHI Archaeology Institute’s Professor Ingrid Mainland is now available online.
Entitled Trace element ratios in tooth enamel as palaeodietary indicators of seaweed consumption and coastal grazing, and their broader applicability, the paper’s first author is Dr Magdalena Blanz, a former UHI Archaeology Institute PhD student, who passed her viva in October 2020.
The study chemically analysed tooth enamel from modern sheep that had consumed known diets containing varying amounts of terrestrial grasses and seaweeds.
In addition, to investigate how decay affected the chemical composition of archaeological enamel, the teeth of 22 sheep from seven archaeological sites in Orkney were also analysed.
The results showed that the tooth enamel from seaweed-eating sheep had significantly different chemical signatures compared to terrestrial-feeding sheep – with specific elements appearing to be a useful indicator of the consumption of marine food.
The open access paper, which is available here, originally featured in The Journal of Archaeological Science – a monthly publication for archaeologists and scientists interested in advancing the development and application of scientific techniques and methodologies to all areas of archaeology.