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Cattle on the hoof: using Sr isotope analysis to investigate cattle mobility in Late Neolithic Britain Sarah Viner (University of Sheffield) Jane Evans.

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Presentation on theme: "Cattle on the hoof: using Sr isotope analysis to investigate cattle mobility in Late Neolithic Britain Sarah Viner (University of Sheffield) Jane Evans."— Presentation transcript:

1 Cattle on the hoof: using Sr isotope analysis to investigate cattle mobility in Late Neolithic Britain Sarah Viner (University of Sheffield) Jane Evans (NIGL) Umberto Albarella (University of Sheffield) Mike Parker Pearson (University of Sheffield)

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3 Strontium isotope analysis The amount of biologically available Sr is related to underlying geology. Sr enters the food chain and is fixed in tooth enamel during the development of the tooth. 87Sr/86Sr of tooth enamel is an indication of the geological conditions prevalent during tooth development. Cattle teeth grow incrementally, so the tip of the tooth is older than the base. By comparing 87 Sr/ 86 Sr from cattle teeth with the local signature we can determine whether an animal was grazed in the local area.

4 Sites used in the pilot study. Poulton Chapel House Farm Welland Bank Quarry Durrington Walls

5 Methods The pilot study Mandibular second molars (birth – 10 months) Samples came from the lingual part of the anterior pillar. Mandibular bone. 6 sections The main study Mandibular third molars (10 months – 2 years) Samples came from the lingual part of the anterior pillar. Tooth dentine. 3 sections

6 Results of the pilot study

7 Sketch map created by Jane Evans available at: DW cattle higher than 0.710

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12 Sketch map created by Jane Evans available at:

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14 Subsample: approx to less than 0.711

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16 Sketch map created by Jane Evans available at:

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20 Conclusions Some cattle originated in the immediate vicinity of DW. However, the majority could not have spent the time between 10months-2 years on chalkland. A variety of origins can be suggested for these cattle. From zooarchaeological investigation it is evident that cattle were brought to the site alive. Finally, the Sr evidence suggests that long distance contacts, and movement of people and animals was undertaken in Late Neolithic Britain.

21 Whats next? The research will continue as part of the AHRC funded Feeding Stonehenge Project in More analysis of cattle teeth from Durrington Walls will be undertaken. And other important Late Neolithic sites will also be investigated to find out whether this is a phenomena unique to Durrington Walls.

22 Acknowledgements Thanks to Mike Emery and Kevin Cootes (The Poulton Research Project), Tom Lane and Francis Pryor (Welland Bank Quarry) for permission to sample teeth for the pilot study. My PhD research has been funded by a NERC studentship. The Stonehenge Riverside Project is funded by the AHRC. Strontium isotope analysis was made possible by a grant from the NIGL steering committee.


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