Original paper

Application of isotopic mixing models for palaeodietary and paleoecological studies

Grupe, Gisela

Anthropologischer Anzeiger Volume 71 No. 1-2 (2014), p. 21 - 39

published: Mar 1, 2014

DOI: 10.1127/0003-5548/2014/0375

BibTeX file

ArtNo. ESP140007101004, Price: 29.00 €

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The application of mixing models for the sourcing of dietary end members, which mix into consumer collagen δ13C and δ15N isotopic ratios, has clear benefits for understanding human palaeodiet and human and vertebrate palaeoecology. This is because traditional visual or conventional statistical interpretations of bivariate plots may be erroneous or misleading. In terms of their biological meaning, measured isotopic ratios are proxies, therefore, an in-depth reflection on their intended purpose is requisite prior to analysis. A detailed reconstruction of individual palaeodiet is impossible, but an assessment of changes in the importance of gross dietary end members should provide valuable clues to ancient subsistence economies. Mixing models require the establishment of isotopic data for a considerable amount of bioarchaeological finds associated with human skeletons. However, when discussed within the archaeological context, they provide feasible and plausible solutions. Moreover, mixing models offer the opportunity to hypothesize “missing end members”, the traces of which do not show up in the archaeological record at all.


collagenmixing modelspalaeodietpalaeoecologyδ13cδ15n