Stable isotope analysis of dental calculus and dietary change in the North Carolina Piedmont, AD 800-1710

Sophia C. Dent, Dale L. Hutchinson, Matthew A. Fort, Kristin M. Hedman, Stanley H. Ambrose

Research output: Contribution to journalAbstractpeer-review


Dietary reconstruction uses destructive analysis of skeletal elements, which is often opposed by descendant populations. Dental calculus has been proposed as an alternative analytical material, but studies have yet to establish a ܪrm relationship between calculus and bone stable isotope ratios. To assess calculus as a dietary proxy, we applied logistic regression models to paired bone and calculus samples (n = 29). The beta-coefܪcients and standard error of the regression models are: mineral Ƚ13C [1.192 (0.009)], organic Ƚ13C [0.979(0.113)], and Ƚ15N [0.839(0.086)]. All are signiܪcant at alpha = 0.001. The strength of these correlations indicates that calculus is an effective proxy for bone and useful for reconstructing diet. We applied these regression models to the Ƚ13C and Ƚ15N of calculus samples from Piedmont North Carolina, AD 800 – 1710 (n = 25). We compared calculus Ƚ13C and Ƚ15N to an inter-pretive baseline of 87 local plants and animals using Bayesian isotope mixing models. Sampled individuals are from three temporal groups: Early (AD 800 – 1200), Protohistoric (AD 1200 – 1600), and Colonial (AD 1600 – 1710). Our results indi-cate that Colonial groups consumed more fish han other groups, and maize consumption ܫuc-tuated across time. Estimated dietary proportions of ܪsh are: 26.6 ± 14.5% (Early), 24.9 ± 15.5% (Protohistoric), and 43.8 ± 8.8% (Colonial). Dietary proportions of maize are: 20.6 ± 13.9% (Early), 12.7 ± 9.7% (Protohistoric), and 23.6 ± 6.8% (Colonial). Results from paleoethnobotanical and zooar-chaeological studies corroborate that Piedmont groups shifted their dietary and socioeconomic practices to creatively negotiate colonial-atten-dant environmental change.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-70
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020
Event2020 Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists -
Duration: Apr 15 2020Apr 18 2020
Conference number: 89


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