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McGlynn, George (2007): Using 13C-, 15N-, and 18O stable isotope analysis of human bone tissue to identify transhumance, high altitude habitation and reconstruct palaeodiet for the early medieval Alpine population at Volders, Austria. Dissertation, LMU München: Fakultät für Biologie



The analysis of stable isotopes of oxygen from structural carbonate in archaeological human bone samples originating from an early medieval cemetery in the Alpine community of Volders, Austria were used to determine the utilization of higher altitudes for subsistence strategies. Varying ratios amongst the group indicate not only certain use of the mountain ecosystem but also probable events of immigration to the area from lower lying warmer regions, possibly related to work practices such as mining. The stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen showed substantial variability in protein intake according to nitrogen ratios and reliance upon C3 plants and C3 herbivores. Demographic documentation which shows a 2:1 sex ratio in favor of males, suggests that this skeletal series might represent a work force settled in the area. Bioarchaeological examinations indicate that the population was physically active, healthy and superbly adapted to the rigors of the Alpine environment.