New kids on the Wadi?:  Radiogenic strontium isotope analysis at Bad edh-Dhra’

Neha Nimmagada [Northwestern University], Caitlin Sweet [Central Michigan University] & Lauren Weigart [University of Evansville]

Stable strontium isotope ratios in dental enamel from permanent teeth reflect childhood geographic residence (Bentley 2006).  Adult enamel samples (LM2, LM3, RM2, RM3; n=16) from charnel house A22 at Bab edh-Dhra’ were analyzed in 2007 by a former NSF-REU participant (Cooper et al. 2007); as a follow-up to that investigation, enamel samples from three Early Bronze Age II-III (2950-2200 BC) charnel houses A56 (LM2; n=3), A55 (RM1; n=7), and A22 (LM1, n=15) were analyzed to determine the presence of non-locals and to evaluate differences in mobility between those interred in each charnel house.  Due to the destructive nature of sampling, teeth were first scored for dental wear, pathological conditions, and metric and nonmetric traits.  Samples were taken from permanent first and second molars.  Enamel samples were extracted, and the resultant enamel powder cleaned, treated with and dissolved in nitric acid, and purified by extraction chromatography before being loaded onto filaments for analysis with a Finnigan-MAT thermal ionization mass spectrometer (TIMS) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

What’s in the water?:  An assessment of mobility the Near Eastern site of Bab edh-Dhra’ using stable oxygen isotopes

Alexandra Emmons [University of Georgia] &  Jessica Goodsell [Arizona State University]

Stable oxygen isotopes from the dental enamel of permanent molars was analyzed to determine aspects of mobility for individuals placed in three charnel houses – A56 (LM2; n=3), A55 (RM1; n=7), and A22 (LM1, n=15) – dating to the Early Bronze Age II-III (2950-2200 BC) at Bab edh-Dhra’.  Once tooth formation takes place, enamel does not remodel (Hillson 2005), so that isotopic values in teeth are indicative of the geographically unique water sources these individuals utilized in childhood, enabling the identification of those ‘non-locals’ who did not imbibe similar water sources at young ages (Knudson and Price 2007).  Moreover, a comparison between charnel houses was made to identify differences in mobility between those interred in each of these funerary structures.  Before destructive sampling, dental wear, pathology, and metric/nonmetric traits were recorded for all teeth.  Enamel samples were extracted, cleaned with sodium hypochlorite, treated with acetic acid, and analyzed with a Finnigan Delta Plus IV mass spectrometer coupled with a Kiel III carbonate device at The Ohio State University.

Long in the tooth:  Oxygen isotopes in dental enamel from Byzantine St. Stephen’s, Jerusalem

Lauren Braas [Penn State University] &  MacKenzie Nuñez [University of Notre Dame]

Stable oxygen isotopes from permanent, adult dental enamel were analyzed to more precisely distinguish migrants to the Byzantine monastery of St. Stephens (AD 428-614).  A major pilgrimage site in Jerusalem as early as the fourth century AD, St. Stephen’s likely attracted foreign visitors and pilgrims, non-local individuals that would have possessed oxygen isotope values different from those raised in Jerusalem (Sponheimer and Lee-Thorp 1999).  Previous biodistance studies by former NSF-REU participants, including assessments of metric and nonmetric traits, revealed similar sets of traits across the Near East, making identification of regional pilgrims difficult (Guappone et al. 2006; Williams et al. 2006).  An isotopic study (LM3; n=22) by former NSF-REU participants also showed St. Stephen’s to be a relatively heterogeneous group, with multiple outliers indicating the presence of non-local pilgrims to the monastery (Cooper et al. 2005, Cooper 2007).  This sample consisted of both first (RM1; n=15) and third (RM3; n=10) molars, permitting an examination of temporal changes in mobility within single individuals.  Prior to sample extraction, tooth wear, pathology, metrics, and nonmetric traits were documented.  Enamel samples were extracted, cleaned with sodium hypochlorite, treated with acetic acid, and analyzed with a Finnigan Delta Plus IV mass spectrometer coupled with a Kiel III carbonate device at The Ohio State University.


Strontium tells all at Tell Dothan: Exploring migration through strontium isotope analysis

Jamie Cartwright [Lawrence University], Jessica Hoffman  [College of Charleston], & Sana Saiyed  [Wellesley College]

Heat related deformations such as warping, delamination, and deformative fractures can be used to determine whether bones were burned in a wet or fleshed state (Baby, 1954; Binford, 1963; Pope and Smith, 2004; Thompson, 2005; Symes et al., 2008).  This study investigated skeletal remains from charnel house A22 from the site Bab edh-Dhra’, Jordan.  The study specifically looked at whether the remains were burned in a wet or dry state and whether there was any pattern of burning within the charnel house.  Four hundred and thirty-nine regions on 122 frontal bones were individually scored for the presence or absence of warping, delamination, and deformative fracturing.  There was no difference in the presence of deformations between specimens from the left or right side.  Specimens from the right side were further analyzed and showed no difference in warping (p=0.41715), delamination (p=1), and deformative fracturing (p=0.16764) by region.  The lack of directional burning in addition to a comparison of other known sites indicated that the bones were burnt in a dry state.  Provenience was analyzed using all specimens.  There was no evidence of a pattern of burning for warping (p=0.008964), delamination (p=0.439315), or deformative fracturing (p=0.091374) in the charnel house.


2011 Projects -- Stable Isotope Analysis of Migration

Previous NSF-REU Summers

A summary of previous research projects can be found:

  1. 2011 Projects

  2. 2010 Projects

  3. 2009 Projects

  4. 2008 Projects

  5. 2007 Projects

  6. 2006 Projects

  7. 2005 Projects

  8. 2004 Projects

  9. 2003 Projects

  10. 2002 Projects

  11. 2000 Projects