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The Chemistry of Prehistoric Human Bone

Edited by T. Douglas Price

Bone chemistry is one of the most promising analytical methods now being used by archaeologists and physical anthropologists to investigate the past of the human species, and this state-of-the-art book includes many of the leading scientists in the field among its contributors.

In essence, human bone carries certain elemental and isotopic signals that are determined by the kinds of food we eat. These signals remain in bone after death and can be retrieved for use in the reconstruction of past human diet. This volume provides a comprehensive survey of recent work examining the application of bone chemistry to prehistoric groups throughout the world. Key chapters deal with problems of diagenesis—post-mortem chemical changes in bone during burial—and the isotope characterization of bone as an indicator of past environments. A collective conclusion offers a summary set of recommendations regarding conventions for analysis and the reporting of results.

1989. 320 pp., figures, notes, references, index, 6 x 9

Contributors: Michael Alcorn, George J. Armelagos, Barrett Brenton, Jane E. Buikstra, M. Pamela Bumsted, Brian S. Chisholm, Jonathon E. Ericson, Susan Frankenberg, Harold W. Krueger, Joseph B. Lambert, Debra Martin, Nikolaas J. Van der Merwe, T. Douglas Price, Margaret J. Schoeninger, Andrew Sillen, Charles H. Sullivan, Dennis P. Vangerven, Michael West, Liang Xue

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List of Illustrations
List of Tables
List of Contributors
Foreword by Jonathan Haas
Preface by T. Douglas Price

  1. Bones, chemistry, and the human past
    T. Douglas Price
  2. Variation in diet reconstructions based on stable carbon isotopic evidence
    Brian S. Chisholm
  3. Reconstructing prehistoric human diet
    Margaret J. Schoeninger
  4. The development of maize agriculture in the Viru Valley, Peru
    Jonathon E. Ericson, Michael West, Charles H. Sullivan, and Harold W. Krueger
  5. Natural variation in 13C concentration and its effect on environmental reconstruction using 13C/12C ratios in animal bones
    Nikolaas J. Van der Merwe
  6. Multi-element studies of diagenesis in prehistoric bone
    T. Douglas Price
  7. Multiple elements: Multiple expectations
    Jane E. Buikstra, Susan Frankenberg, Joseph B. Lambert, and Li-Ang Xue
  8. Diagenesis of the inorganic phase of cortical bone
    Andrew Sillen
  9. Factors affecting elemental and isotopic variation in prehistoric human skeletons
    George J. Armelagos, Barrett Brenton, Michael Alcorn, Debra Martin, and Dennis P. Vangerven
  10. The chemistry of prehistoric human bone: Recommendations and directions for future study
    The Seminar
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