Bioarchaeology - Behind the Scenes of Multiproxy Analyses

Christophe Snoeck, Niels De Winter, Rick Schulting, Philippe Claeys

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic


In archaeology, the study of bone and teeth is key to the understanding of the past as they represent direct evidence of life onEarth. The mineral present in bone and teeth (bioapatite – a highly substituted hexagonal calcium phosphate apatite) containsseveral elements that can be used to reconstruct palaeoenvironments, palaeodiets, mobility patterns, etc.However, when looking at bioapatite of bone and teeth, diagenesis remains a problem that is often overlooked. Recentdevelopments in high resolution infrared and X-ray analyses allow for a better assessment of the preservation of archaeologicalskeletal remains. Once optimal samples are selected, it is possible to go into the isotopic study of archaeological bone and teeth.In this poster we present the structural and chemical compositions of hundreds of bone and teeth with ages ranging fromthe Mesolithic to the present day using μXRF, FTIR microscopy and ICP-MS. Several alteration patterns can be observed suchas fossilization, burning, leaching of elements within the sample, etc. It is also possible to evaluate the presence/preservation oforganic matter in these samples. A selection of optimal samples are then analysed isotopically ( 13Cap, 18Op, 18Oc, 87Sr/86Sr)and the results discussed in terms of diet, climate and mobility.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016


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