Exploring the potential of strontium isotope analysis to detect archaeological migration events in Southern Ontario, Canada

Bower, Megan A. (2017) Exploring the potential of strontium isotope analysis to detect archaeological migration events in Southern Ontario, Canada. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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This dissertation examines the potential of strontium isotope analysis to detect archaeological migration events in southern Ontario, Canada. It is the first study of strontium isotope analysis of white-tailed deer teeth conducted in Canada, with previous research making use of stable isotope analysis and archaeological and ethnohistorical evidence to investigate mobility. Southern Ontario has a rich archaeological record with a long history of mobility studies making it an ideal setting in which to investigate the potential of this method. In pursuit of this, the range of variation in bioavailable ⁸⁷Sr/⁸⁶Sr values in southern Ontario was established to create an isotopic baseline. Three models detailing the range of variation in ⁸⁷Sr/⁸⁶Sr values were created: a proxy model using previously published ⁸⁷Sr/⁸⁶Sr values of geological substrates; a theoretical model using previously published equations to establish potential bioavailable ⁸⁷Sr/⁸⁶Sr values; and an experimental model using white-tailed deer teeth recovered from archaeological sites in southern Ontario. Three hundred and twenty one samples of core enamel from 104 white-tailed deer teeth recovered from 31 different archaeological sites in southern Ontario were prepared for strontium isotope analysis to characterize the bioavailable strontium. Sites were located in traditional Huron-Wendat and Neutral territory dating from A.D. 75-1651. The underlying geology in the region dates to the Palaeozoic era (~542MYA to 251MYA) and contains limestone, sandstone, dolomite and shale with trace amounts of other rocks and minerals (e.g., arkose). A variety of types of sediment and soil overlay the bedrock including sand, clay, silt, gravel, and glacial till dating to the Quaternary period (2.6MYA to present) while elevation ranges from 49 to 542 meters above sea level. The amount of variation within and between white-tailed deer teeth was also examined with serial samples analyzed from multiple lophs on the same tooth, as well as from different types of teeth (e.g., first, second and third molars) from the same individual. Strontium isotope analysis was found to be of limited utility to investigate mobility within groups originating from southern Ontario (e.g., the Huron-Wendat and Neutral) with minimal variation present. However, distinction between populations from different geographic areas (e.g., Northern Iroquoians, Iroquoians, Europeans, Algonquians) remains feasible. Similarly, the strontium isotope composition within white-tailed deer teeth is relatively homogenous making them a viable sample for strontium isotope analysis. However, small differences between types of teeth were noted suggesting that white-tailed deer behaviour and seasonality are influential. Cultural factors such as white-tailed deer acquisition and type of site (e.g., village, hamlet) also impact strontium isotope analysis and should be considered in any study making use of this method.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/13040
Item ID: 13040
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 210-254).
Keywords: Strontium isotope analysis, Bioavailable strontium, Ontario, Huron-Wendat, Neutral, White-tailed deer, Archaeological enamel
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Archaeology
Date: December 2017
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Rubidium-strontium dating; Mammal remains (Archaeology) -- Ontario, Southern; Animal migration -- Ontario, Southern

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