Monday, February 7, 2011

Isotope Analysis

A developing field in forensic anthropology is stable and radioactive isotope analysis.

In archaeology comparisons of quantities and ratios of elements present (for example comparing the ratio of radioactive carbon 14 with it’s more stable carbon 12 and 13) within the body can get be used as a way of aging skeletal remains. Due to elemental variations in location and diet, it is possible to use similar analysis to estimate where an individual comes from.

The relatively simple analyses can be made on a number of bone or soft tissues and yield information regarding the whereabouts of an individual. By performing the analysis on various parts of the skeleton it is possible to gain geographic information about an individual at various stages of their lives. Analysis of elements such as Strontium, calcium or carbon in dental enamel may reveal details of the person’s younger life while analysis of hair may reveal the location within the last few weeks or months prior to death.

Isotope analysis is increasingly being used in drug related crime investigation therefore may be of assistance in identifying drugs.

For more interesting topics related to archaeology, visit archaeology excavations.

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