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Reconsidering Stable Isotope Analysis of Bone Collagen for the Interpretation of Prehistoric Breastfeeding and Weaning Practices: A Case Study from Santa Clara Valley, California

Author(s): Karen Gardner ; Eric J. Bartelink ; Antoinette Martinez ; Alan Leventhal ; Rosemary Cambra

Year: 2017

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Summary

Breastfeeding and weaning practices (BWPs) are deeply personal, influenced by individual choices, circumstances of health and opportunity, community support, and cultural norms. This presentation will discuss the advantages and challenges of using bone collagen composition to interpret breastfeeding and weaning practices, using data from the Yukisma Mound (CA-SCL-38), a Late Period (~740-230 BP) ancestral Ohlone mortuary site in Santa Clara County, California. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope values from bone collagen are available for 202 individuals from this population, including 24 subadults. A statistical approach, using linear regression and standard residual values, provides an objective method for differentiating breastfeeding infants from nitrogen enrichment due to consumption of other food sources (e.g. marine foods). Results are consistent with contemporaneous regional studies which used serial sampling of collagen from tooth dentin, but differ from ethnohistoric accounts of Ohlone breastfeeding practices from the eighteenth century. Possible explanations for the change through time will be discussed in historical context.


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Reconsidering Stable Isotope Analysis of Bone Collagen for the Interpretation of Prehistoric Breastfeeding and Weaning Practices: A Case Study from Santa Clara Valley, California. Karen Gardner, Eric J. Bartelink, Antoinette Martinez, Alan Leventhal, Rosemary Cambra. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431815)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -125.464; min lat: 32.101 ; max long: -114.214; max lat: 42.033 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15696

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