Nav: Home

Strontium isotope maps are disturbed by agricultural lime

March 13, 2019

A study by researchers at Department of Geoscience, Aarhus University, Denmark now shows that strontium isotopes may often be used incorrectly in archeological studies, as the widespread use of added (strontium-rich) agricultural lime in low- to non-calcareous soils can dramatically alter the strontium isotopic composition of the surface waters running through them and the plants growing within them.

This is of special significance for strontium-isotope based provenance studies, where the strontium isotopic values measured in a prehistoric person's remains or in a given artefact are compared to measured strontium isotopic values in the surrounding, modern environment. Reference maps showing strontium isotope data dominated by the isotopic signature of modern agricultural lime, do not show the true strontium isotopic composition of the area during prehistoric times, when the individual being studied lived., or the object being studied was in created.

This can result in erroneous interpretations of the origin and movement of these prehistoric people and artefacts.

In their study published in Science Advances, the geologists Erik Thomsen and Rasmus Andreasen from Aarhus University discuss two prominent examples of this:

The iconic Bronze Age women, the Egtved Girl and the Skrydstrup Woman, who were found in Denmark in 1921 and 1935 respectively, but were recently (2015 & 2017) interpreted to have originated far away from Denmark. Moreover, the Egtved Girl was interpreted by the study's authors to have traveled back and forth between Denmark and another place, likely her homeland that was believed to be southern Germany.

These conclusions became a part of a larger framework of ideas of extended European mobility, migration, and trade, during the Bronze Age.

Conversely, the strontium data presented in the new study show that these two women could have obtained their strontium isotopic signatures within 10 km of their burial mounds, and do not indicate any cause to suspect that the women came from afar or traveled great distances during their lifetimes.

It is noteworthy that the effects of agricultural lime on the strontium isotopic composition demonstrated here is not isolated to this study's field areas in western Denmark but is likely to occur worldwide in arable areas with non-calcareous soils. The use of agricultural lime is ubiquitous in farming on less fertile soils to provide calcium for the plants and adjust soil acidity. Thus, many studies using strontium isotopes for provenance and mobility studies in these farmed low-calcareous areas may well need revision, and researchers should use care when sampling in these areas for such studies, in the future.
-end-


Aarhus University

Related Bronze Age Articles:

Material and genetic resemblance in the Bronze Age Southern Levant
Different 'Canaanite' people from the Bronze Age Southern Levant not only culturally, but also genetically resemble each other more than other populations.
Age matters: Paternal age and the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders in children
It is no secret that genetic factors play a role in determining whether children have neurodevelopmental disorders.
'Frailty' from age 40 -- what to look out for
With all eyes on avoiding major illness this year, health researchers are urging people as young as 40 to build physical and mental health to reduce or even avoid 'frailty' and higher mortality risk.
Bronze Age diet and farming strategy reconstructed using integrative isotope analysis
Isotope analysis of two Bronze Age El Algar sites in present-day south-eastern Spain provides a integrated picture of diets and farming strategies, according to a study published March 11, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Corina Knipper from the Curt Engelhorn Center for Archaeometry, Germany, and colleagues.
Archaeologists find Bronze Age tombs lined with gold
Archaeologists with the University of Cincinnati have discovered two Bronze Age tombs containing a trove of engraved jewelry and artifacts that promise to unlock secrets about life in ancient Greece.
Archaeology -- Social inequality in Bronze Age households
Archaeogenetic analyses provide new insights into social inequality 4,000 years ago: nuclear families lived together with foreign women and individuals from lower social classes in the same household.
Ancient DNA reveals social inequality in bronze age Europe households
Providing a clearer picture of intra-household inequality in ancient times, new research reports that prehistoric German households near the Lech Valley consisted of a high-status core family and unrelated low-status individuals.
The enigma of bronze age tin
The origin of the tin used in the Bronze Age has long been one of the greatest enigmas in archaeological research.
The beginnings of trade in northwestern Europe during the Bronze Age
People in England were using balance weights and scales to measure the value of materials as early as the late second and early first millennia BC.
Nordic Bronze Age attracted wide variety of migrants to Denmark
Migration patterns in present-day Denmark shifted at the beginning of the Nordic Bronze Age, according to a study published Aug.
More Bronze Age News and Bronze Age Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Our Relationship With Water
We need water to live. But with rising seas and so many lacking clean water – water is in crisis and so are we. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around restoring our relationship with water. Guests on the show include legal scholar Kelsey Leonard, artist LaToya Ruby Frazier, and community organizer Colette Pichon Battle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#568 Poker Face Psychology
Anyone who's seen pop culture depictions of poker might think statistics and math is the only way to get ahead. But no, there's psychology too. Author Maria Konnikova took her Ph.D. in psychology to the poker table, and turned out to be good. So good, she went pro in poker, and learned all about her own biases on the way. We're talking about her new book "The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Uncounted
First things first: our very own Latif Nasser has an exciting new show on Netflix. He talks to Jad about the hidden forces of the world that connect us all. Then, with an eye on the upcoming election, we take a look back: at two pieces from More Perfect Season 3 about Constitutional amendments that determine who gets to vote. Former Radiolab producer Julia Longoria takes us to Washington, D.C. The capital is at the heart of our democracy, but it's not a state, and it wasn't until the 23rd Amendment that its people got the right to vote for president. But that still left DC without full representation in Congress; D.C. sends a "non-voting delegate" to the House. Julia profiles that delegate, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and her unique approach to fighting for power in a virtually powerless role. Second, Radiolab producer Sarah Qari looks at a current fight to lower the US voting age to 16 that harkens back to the fight for the 26th Amendment in the 1960s. Eighteen-year-olds at the time argued that if they were old enough to be drafted to fight in the War, they were old enough to have a voice in our democracy. But what about today, when even younger Americans are finding themselves at the center of national political debates? Does it mean we should lower the voting age even further? This episode was reported and produced by Julia Longoria and Sarah Qari. Check out Latif Nasser's new Netflix show Connected here. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.