W6 Archaeology in the News

In an article called “New Technique Could Identify Markers of Starvation in Teeth”, archaeologists and scientists teamed up to find out that it is possible to analyze the amounts of stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes in teeth to indicate evidence of starvation. This method is similar to what we saw in the video “The Hearth (Out of the Past)”, where the archaeologists and scientists noticed certain similarities between the physicality of skulls buried under the homes of ancient people.

The article also mentions how the person’s diet during their childhood (when their teeth were growing) can be detected by the composition of denten collagen in the teeth. Those with smaller amounts of collagen had poorer nutrition. This is also similar to what we learned in one of our lectures during week 4. One tooth from 20 adults and children who lived in Kilkenny, Ireland during the Great Famine were tested. Bone collagen from the skeletons’ ribs were also detected for collagen levels, which would give an idea of what the person’s diet was like closer to their time of death rather than during their early developing years. It was evidential that there was a trend of corn in the peoples’ diets near the time of their death, which lines up with the fact that corn was imported from America for them to eat during this time.



A Publication of the Archaeological Institute of America: Archaeology Magazine. (2016). Retrieved from:


3 thoughts on “W6 Archaeology in the News

  1. This article/your analysis were interesting reads! I liked how you related the techniques described in this article to the techniques that we saw in “The Hearth,” as well as other methods that we learned in other areas of the class. One reoccurring theme that I have noticed since taking this class is technological innovation. Before taking this class, I did not realize how many methods that archaeologists had at their disposal to assist them in making observations and interpretations. But advancements in technology and methods have allowed archaeologists to make increasingly detailed interpretations about evidence that is extremely old. As I’ve said in other comments, it is exciting to think about the observations that we can continue to make as technology steadily improves.

  2. It is very interesting the amount of new things that archaeologists and scientist can learn from the same evidence that has always been available. Who knows what they will be able to learn about that person’s teeth in just a few more years. Now they can learn about the person’s nutrition in their development and near their death. I think that it might be something even more detailed at some point. Testing remains from the Great Famine period must be interesting for these researchers. I wonder why there was a trend for people close to their death to have a heavy corn diet. Maybe that’s all the community could feed them.

  3. It is really interesting to see that how technology is developed. I think this technology could be quite important as it could help researchers identify how people in the past lived. It seems that this new research technology could not only identify what they ate as well as the situation of food shortage, and it should be able to help people understand the history better, because hunger would also affect many things else, such as policy and culture. It is really interesting to see more and more technologies are developed these years and most of them seems to be amazing and are quite helpful for archaeologists to understand the past better than ever before.

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