Location: University of Bamberg

Invited talk to the Archaeological Colloquium

Dr. Jason Laffoon (Universiteit Leiden):

Passports from the Past - The Application of Isotopes and Isoscapes for Studying Geographic Origins in Archaeological Research


Isotopic analysis has become a powerful and widely employed method for addressing a wide range of research questions in archaeological research. The interpretation of stable and radiogenic isotope values for the purpose of inferring migration, mobility, movement, and geographic provenance requires comparisons with maps of baseline isotopic variation (isoscapes). Over the last decade, strontium isotope (87Sr/86Sr) and oxygen isotope (δ18O) analyses of the bioarchaeological record have been extensively applied to address human paleomobility and the provenance of various biogenic raw materials and artefacts.

This presentation focuses on the development and application of regional baseline oxygen and bioavailable strontium isotope data sets and associated isoscapes in the Caribbean. The effectiveness of integrating multiple isotope data and related isoscapes via a probabilistic approach has been recently validated with a modern individual of known geographic origin. This study illustrates the application of such an approach to bioarchaeological isotope data in the Caribbean region. The results indicate that the use of these combined methods offers much potential for constraining the possible geographic origins of individuals but that the precision is highly variable and dependent on both the measured isotope values and the spatial distribution of baseline isotopic variation in the study area. This presentation will also highlight the potentials for further improving probabilistic assessments of geographic origin by: increasing the spatial extent and representativeness of baseline sampling, utilizing machine-learning methods for developing and refining regional isoscapes, and incorporating a wider range of isotopic and archaeological proxy data within Bayesian frameworks.

This event will only be online.You can connect to the Zoom meeting here: https://uni-bamberg.zoom.us/j/93574183005

Meeting-ID: 935 7418 3005

The complete program (in German) you will find here.