Stable isotopic analysis of bioarchaeological remains can be used to reconstruct past subsistence practices and associated land use change, revealing insights into the impact of food production and consumption practices on past environments over the longue durée. Investigating the isotope geochemistry of preserved organic remains enables a clearer understanding of the interplay between the subsistence economy and organisation and complexity of past societies, as well as the role of these societies in shaping their surrounding landscape. Such insights can in turn inform recommendations relating to the long-term sustainability and resilience of present-day farming practices.
Potential research avenues involve refining approaches to reconstructing past diet, in particular elucidating the importance of wild plant resources, and tracing land use practices using a combination of isotope proxies. We have facilities to determine stable carbon, nitrogen and oxygen isotope values of organic materials (i.e. plant remains, sediments, faunal and human bones).
Associated Research Streams
isotope geochemistry, palaeoenvironment, subsistence, land use, agriculture, archaeology