Bone chemistry and bioarchaeology

Stanley H Ambrose, John Krigbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Isotopic analysis of bones and teeth is now routinely used for dating skeletons and archaeological sites, and for diet, climate, and habitat reconstruction. Techniques of radiocarbon dating of bones and teeth developed by Harold Krueger and others during the 1960s laid the groundwork for subsequent research on stable carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and strontium isotope analysis. We first review salient points in the history of research in bone isotope biogeochemistry, focusing on Krueger's contributions. We then discuss the significance of contributions to this volume of the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology for the current state of research in dietary and environmental reconstruction in archaeology, bioarchaeology, and paleoanthropology. All papers in this volume include isotopic analysis of the carbonate phase of bone and/or tooth enamel apatite for dietary and/or environmental reconstruction. Harold Krueger was instrumental in developing methods of apatite purification for removing diagenetic phases, isotopic analysis, and interpretive models of paleodiets. Apatite isotopic analysis is now an important area of bone biogeochemistry research that provides powerful tools for reconstructing human behavior in the emerging anthropological discipline of bioarchaeology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-199
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2003


  • Archaeology
  • Bone chemistry
  • Carbon isotopes
  • Nitrogen isotopes
  • Paleodiet
  • Radiocarbon dating
  • Strontium isotopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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