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Expanding on incremental dentin methodology to investigate childhood and infant feeding practices on Taumako (southeast Solomon Islands).

Stantis, C., Buckley, H.R., Commendador, A. and Dudgeon, J.V., 2021. Expanding on incremental dentin methodology to investigate childhood and infant feeding practices on Taumako (southeast Solomon Islands). Journal of Archaeological Science, 126 (February), 105294.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2020.105294


Though many ethnohistoric sources in the tropical Pacific recount chiefly feasting events, few describe childhood feeding practices despite the impact childhood under-nutrition may have had on morbidity and early mortality. Bioarchaeological investigation of the Namu burial ground (circa 750–300 BP) on the island of Taumako (southeast Solomon Islands) provides a direct means of understanding prehistoric life on a Polynesian Outlier in the south western Pacific. We investigate infant and childhood (0–10 years) feeding behavior in prehistoric Taumako by creating δ13Ccollagen, δ15Ncollagen, and δ13Ccarbonate profiles from 20 individuals using horizontal dentin sections of permanent first molars. The high-resolution data created using novel sample preparation offers insight into childhood diet in the absence of documentary evidence, incrementally sampling δ13Ccollagen and δ15Ncollagen but also expanding on the method to provide carbonate data from the same sequential dentin samples. The individuals who died in adolescence have significantly lower δ15Ncollagen values in early life than those who died in adulthood, which may suggest a link between diet, nutritional health, and morbidity. There were no significant differences in isotope values between social status groups, suggesting shared childhood experiences regarding types of foods consumed. Longitudinal assessment of δ13Ccollagen and δ15Ncollagen shows a strong relationship between the two values, likely a result of the typical tropical Pacific diet consisting largely of high protein marine foods that overshadows low protein terrestrial foods. This highlights the utility of δ13Ccarbonate in order to more effectively investigate consumption of low protein foodtypes in this region.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Carbon ; Nitrogen ; Tropical Pacific ; Polynesia
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:34991
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:19 Jan 2021 08:01
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:25


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