A strontium isotope pilot study using cremated teeth from the Vollmarshausen cemetery, Hesse, Germany

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Strontium isotope research to answer questions regarding mobility and provenance of individuals from archaeological cemeteries has, until very recently, been focused almost entirely on bone and tooth samples from inhumation burials. This study investigates whether cremated tooth enamel, when present, can provide reliable strontium isotope ratios despite heat-related alteration and millennia in the soil. We obtained 87Sr/86Sr ratios for 34 enamel and 2 dentine samples from 28 individuals, as well as for 18 soil leachates, from the Urnfield cremation cemetery of Vollmarshausen (State of Hesse, Germany). Our results show that cremated enamel from this site was not subject to contamination from the burial environment. Using our results and comparison with relevant published bioavailable strontium isotope baselines, we also show that the individuals from Vollmarshausen were predominantly local to the area around their burial site. This study contributes to the growing body of evidence regarding the applicability of strontium isotope analysis to cremated human remains, which given the wide global and temporal spread of this form of burial treatment opens up new possibilities for cremation archaeology.

TidsskriftJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
StatusUdgivet - 2020

ID: 242514943