Transalpine Mobility and Cultural Transfer

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SP01: Isotopic mapping of local bioavailable stable isotopes (Sr, Pb, O) and geo-environmental parameters.

Principal investigators: Prof. Dr. G. Grupe, Dr. F. Söllner, Prof. Dr. S. Hölzl

RIMG0521In the frame of this subproject, an isotopic map is established which will be suitable for archaeological questions concerning a relevant reference region, specifically, the Inn-Eisack-Etsch passageway across the Alps which had been in use since prehistoric times. This isotopic map shall be applicable for answering questions focusing on transalpine migration and trade.

It is meanwhile accepted that existent geological maps are not fully suitable for the determination of provenance of archaeological finds. Also, geologically and ecologically determined isotopic ratios are geographically redundant with the result that the detection of place of origin of bioarchaeological finds will remain vague. Therefore, a five dimensional isotopic fingerprint, consisting of 87Sr/86Sr, 208Pb/204Pb, 207Pb/204Pb, 206Pb/204Pb, and δ18O shall be established by analysis of archaeozoological finds of residential vertebrates. This isotopic fingerprint is augmented with geological and ecological samples.

In cooperation with subproject 3, the precision of this isotopic fingerprint will be computed for four isotopic ratios only (excluding δ18O which is not stable at high temperatures), and applied to cremated material. Cremations are highly relevant bioarchaeological finds but so far have often been neglected in archaeometric research studies. The data will be transferred into a data bank which shall be suitable for archaeological provenenance studies for all prehistoric strata in the reference region.

All analyses are accompanied by mineralogical/crystallographical controls of the samples (see subproject 2) for a validation of the isotopic data. This way, a catalogue of validation criteria for stable isotope analysis of the mineral fraction of cremated and non-cremated skeletal finds will be established.


Stable strontium isotopic map of the Alps exhibiting the archaeological sites investigated within this project.