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Iron Age breastfeeding practices in Britain : isotopic evidence from Wetwang, East Yorkshire.

Jay, M. and Fuller, B. T. and Richards, M. P. and Knüsel, C. J. and King, S. S. (2008) 'Iron Age breastfeeding practices in Britain : isotopic evidence from Wetwang, East Yorkshire.', American journal of physical anthropology., 136 (3). pp. 327-337.


We present here the results of carbon and nitrogen isotopic analysis of bone collagen undertaken on all skeletal remains of infants and young children below the age of six years (n = 35) from the internationally important British cemetery site at Wetwang in East Yorkshire (middle Iron Age, c. 4th to 2nd centuries BC). The aim of the study is to investigate infant diet, with particular reference to breastfeeding and weaning practices, and to consider the data in the context of the variation to be found amongst previously published studies of archaeological populations. The skeletal remains from Wetwang form the only prehistoric collection in the UK, prior to the Romano-British period, with sufficient individuals in this age group to make such an isotopic study viable alongside associated adults and older children. The data are compared in detail with published data from two other sites, one from 19th century Canada and the other from Medieval Britain. The results suggest an unusual situation at Wetwang, with neither the nitrogen nor the carbon isotope ratios conforming to expectations when compared to the putative mothers. We discuss how these data compare with the prior expectation and with other published data, and we interpret the divergence in this case to be due to restricted breastfeeding and the early introduction of supplementary foods.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Weaning, Carbon, Nitrogen, Palaeodiet, Collagen.
Full text:Full text not available from this repository.
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Record Created:14 Jul 2009 14:20
Last Modified:21 Jul 2009 16:25

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