Early Childhood Diet during the Bronze Age Eastern Zhou Dynasty (China): Evidence from Stable Isotope Analysis


This is an abstract from the "The Health and Welfare of Children in the Past" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Diet and health are deeply intertwined, and childhood is a critical period where nutrition can have significant short- and long-term effects on the growing individual. Breastfeeding, weaning, and childhood dietary habits are culturally-mediated practices, and how a developing body is fed is a critical cultural experience with biological consequences. Stable isotope analysis of human teeth is one method to study childhood dietary patterns, with new techniques allowing for fine-grained dietary histories of individuals over different windows of time during youth. Previous research on the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (Bronze Age China) identified differences in dietary and health patterns between adult females and males, interpreted as the emergence of male-biased inequality during this time period. To fully understand the development of this pattern of sex-based dietary difference it is crucial to investigate infant and child feeding practices, as nutritional differences may have consequential effects on health outcomes later in life. We studied a sub-set of the same Eastern Zhou individuals’ teeth using an incremental dentin sampling approach, with small sections of dentine collagen analyzed for carbon and nitrogen stable isotope data. Here we present the results of this study including analysis of breast-feeding, weaning, and childhood dietary patterns.

Cite this Record

Early Childhood Diet during the Bronze Age Eastern Zhou Dynasty (China): Evidence from Stable Isotope Analysis. Melanie Miller, Yu Dong, Kate Pechenkina, Wenquan Fan, Sian Halcrow. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450759)

Spatial Coverage

min long: 70.4; min lat: 17.141 ; max long: 146.514; max lat: 53.956 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23369