Reports

Stable nitrogen isotope ratios of bone collagen reflect marine and terrestrial components of prehistoric human diet

Science  24 Jun 1983:
Vol. 220, Issue 4604, pp. 1381-1383
DOI: 10.1126/science.6344217

Abstract

The delta 15N values of bone collagen from Eskimos and from Northwest Coast Indians dependent on salmon fishing are about 10 per mil more positive than those from agriculturalists in historic times. Among prehistoric humans, two groups dependent on marine food sources show bone collagen delta 15N values that are 4 to 6 per mil more positive than those from two agricultural groups. The nitrogen isotope ratios of bone collagen from prehistoric inhabitants of the Bahamas are anomalously low for reasons that relate to the biogeochemical cycle of nitrogen in coral reefs.