Migratory Patterns and Nutritional Health Analysis of the Hill Street Skeletons
presentationposted on 17.11.2014, 00:00 by Brian Horlick-Cruz, Rick Weathermon
In the late 1980's, three Euro-American skeletons were found during the construction of Hill Street in Riverton, Wyoming. Following a brief initial examination, the remains were catalogued and stored in the University of Wyoming Human Remains Repository. Recently, I was given access to the skeletons for bioarchaeological analysis, with the focus on stable isotope analysis of inorganic carbonates (δ13C and δ18O). Analysis of δ13C by mass spectrometry can provide information on an individual's overall diet, while examination of remains at the gross level can be telling of nutritional health. In addition, δ18O in remains also retains the oxygen signatures of the groundwater that an individual consumed during their lifetime. Because groundwater sources have geographically varying oxygen signatures, it is possible to determine the general geographic region that the remains came from and whether or not the individual moved significant distances in his or her life. In order to do this, inorganic carbonate samples were taken from ribs (which regenerate approximately every ten years) and tooth enamel from molars (which finish forming approximately within the first ten years of life). By comparing the δ13C and δ18O ratios of the enamel and rib samples from each individual, I will be able to determine whether or not they migrated to Northwestern Wyoming from elsewhere.