Insights from Increments: Advances in Geochemical and Microscopic Analyses of Hard Tissues

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

Recent advances in the microscopic and geochemical study of biological hard tissues have broadened archaeological understandings of past human-environmental dynamics, especially in island and coastal settings. Hard tissues that contain macro- and micro-incremental growth structures, such as fish otoliths, corals, coralline algae, teeth, and shells serve as ideal proxies as they record local environmental conditions in their structures as they grow. In addition to past environmental information, the analysis of hard tissues reveals insights into changes to animal populations from climatic stress, as well as resource depletion. When combined with ancillary archaeological evidence, these data can provide new insights into seasonality, sea surface temperature and palaeosalinity, in addition to understanding both long- and short-term patterns of landscape and resource use. This session highlights the interdisciplinary nature of this research, connecting archaeologists, biologists, geochemists and sclerochronologists, to share their latest research and methods in hopes of propelling and strengthening future archaeological investigations of hard tissues.

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