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Determining short-term dietary change in the American Southwest : seasonality using isotopic analysis of human hair Cooper, Catherine Grace


This study examines short-term dietary change in a Basketmaker II population from the American Southwest using stable isotope analysis of human hairs from a midden excavated at the site of Turkey Pen Ruins. Each individual hair was segmented and each section analyzed for δ¹³C and δ¹⁵N on an Elementar-Isoprime EA-IRMS to explore changes in both plant and meat protein intake across a period of months. The data show that there is some variation along the length of individual hairs, and even though the magnitude of the δ¹³C and δ¹⁵N shifts are not the same across all hair strands, there is enough evidence of semi-sinusoidal curvature in all hairs suggesting seasonal variation in the diet. The isotope values of these individuals, when compared to previously-published δ¹³C and δ¹⁵N data from archaeological American Southwest turkey remains, suggests that both Basketmaker II humans from Turkey Pen Ruins and turkeys recovered from nearby sites had a similar, mostly herbivorous, diet.

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