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Using stable isotopes to identify childhood and infant feeding practices in prehistoric Taumako

Author(s): Christina Stantis ; Hallie Buckley ; Amy Commendador ; John Dudgeon

Year: 2017

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Though many ethnohistoric sources in the tropical Pacific recount chiefly feasting events, few describe the feeding practices of children despite the impact childhood nutrition has on morbidity and mortality throughout an individual’s life history. The Namu burial ground (circa 750 — 300 BP) on the island of Taumako in the southeast Solomon Islands provides a direct means of understanding prehistoric life on a Polynesian Outlier. Twenty individuals from the 226 excavated were sampled as part of a pilot study. We investigate infant and childhood feeding behavior in prehistoric Taumako by creating δ13C and δ15N profiles using collagen horizontal dentin sections of permanent molars. The high-resolution data in those individuals who survived to adulthood is supplemented with skeletal evidence of nutritional disease and grave goods suggesting relative wealth to create a combined approach and offer insight into breastfeeding and weaning practices in the absence of documentary evidence.

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Using stable isotopes to identify childhood and infant feeding practices in prehistoric Taumako. Christina Stantis, Hallie Buckley, Amy Commendador, John Dudgeon. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431788)


Spatial Coverage

min long: 111.973; min lat: -52.052 ; max long: -87.715; max lat: 53.331 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17073

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America