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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications / Oxygen and strontium isotopes as provenance indicators of fish at archaeological sites: the case study of Sagalassos, SW Turkey

E. Dufour, C. Holmden, W. Van Neer, A. Zazzo, W. Patterson, P. Degryse and E. Keppens (2007)

Oxygen and strontium isotopes as provenance indicators of fish at archaeological sites: the case study of Sagalassos, SW Turkey

Journal of Archaeological Science, 34:1226-1239.

In this paper, we investigate the potential use of oxygen and strontium isotope ratios (d18Op and 87Sr/86Sr) measured in archaeological fish enamel as provenance indicators. d18Op and 87Sr/86Sr were measured in a suite of archaeological carp remains recovered from the Anatolian townsite of Sagalassos dated to the Early Byzantine period (AD 450e650) and compared to that of modern fish, river and lake waters from the Anatolian region. We used sequential leaches in weak acetic acid to remove diagenetic Sr from fossil tooth enamel, monitoring the effectiveness of this approach by measuring the Sr/Ca ratios of the leachates via an isotope dilution thermal ionization mass spectrometry method (ID-TIMS). d18Op values mostly excluded a riverine origin. 87Sr/86Sr ratios of one fish overlapped with the 87Sr/86Sr signatures of two lakes in the Anatolian region, and at least one lake (Gölcük) could be removed as a candidate owing to a very distinctive 87Sr/86Sr signature not found in any of the fish remains. Most of the tooth samples analyzed could not be assigned a precise geographical origin since the 87Sr/86Sr ratios measured in enamel did not match that of any of the local lakes selected as potential origin. This result suggests that carp may have originated from lakes that have not yet been sampled, although this conclusion is not supported by other archaeological evidence. Alternatively, the lack of correspondence between lakes and fish Sr isotope ratios highlights several possible sources of uncertainties including spatial heterogeneity in 87Sr/86Sr ratio within a lake, the contribution of dietary strontium to the 87Sr/86Sr ratio of fish tooth enamel, and post-mortem alteration of the tooth Sr isotope signal during fossilization. In spite of the high precision of the strontium isotope analyses and the wide range of variation in the surface waters of the Anatolian lakes and rivers, this method may remain limited to distinguishing between lakes situated in regions of bedrock of very distinct age and geology until these sources of uncertainty are more fully investigated.
Peer Review, International Redaction Board, Impact Factor
IF 2011 = 1,914
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