Encyclopedia > Isotope analysis

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Isotope analysis

The distribution of stable isotopes and certain elements within a food web make it possible to draw direct inferences regarding diet, trophic level and subsistence.

This is a completely different technique to Radiocarbon dating which is used to measure the age of organic materials.

Bone recovered from archaeological sites may be analysed isotopically for information regarding diet and migration. Carbon and nitrogen isotopic signatures are used to reconstruct diet while oxygen isotopes are used to determine geographic location.

In order obtain an accurate picture of palaeodiets, it is important to understand processes of diagenesis that may affect the original isotopic signal.

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