ossamenta: Scientist clones dinosaur for T-rex steaks (Science)
[personal profile] ossamenta
Remember the mass grave in Dorset I blogged about earlier? The isotope analysis has come in, and the results are just where I wanted them. No faffing about "possibly southern England, possibly central Europe, possibly Norway - so, we really can't tell". No, instead the results are pretty unambigously pointing towards Scandinavia: oxygen is outside the British range and suggests a cold northern climate - one individual may even have spent his childhood above the artic circle! Further, the range of the strontium and oxygen values indicate no common local origin for these men: they may have been from Scandinavia, but did not come from the same village or region. The carbon and nitrogen values are right in the middle of those from other Scandinavian Viking Age skeletons, but are slightly off-centre from British skeletons. Radio carbon analysis suggest that they died sometime between 910-1030 AD.

Since the isotope analysis is based on teeth, the results are valid for the individual's childhood, and not necessarily their adulthood. While we absorb minerals from our food and drink into our skeleton, the tooth enamel is fixed once the crown has formed, whereas the mineral content in bones are constantly re-modelled over our lifetimes. IIRC it takes 7-10 years to shift isoptopes in bone. Having said that, most of the men in the mass grave were young adults, some still in their late teens.

The story is all over the main UK papers and the BBC was here earlier for a short filming session.

ETA: A Youtube video with more information - and images of bones with chop mark damage

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