Sr-Pb Isotope and Elemental Analysis

  • "You are what you eat" means that chemical analysis of human remains may provide scientific information on what foods were consumed and in what quantities, since isotopic and elemental values in plants and animals are passed on to their consumers. These methods complement strontium isotope analysis in addressing human mobility and identification. Strontium (Sr) and lead (Pb) are metals that readily substitute for calcium (Ca) and so accumulate in body tissues and bones in vivo. In contrast to Ca, which has relatively uniform isotopic composition, Sr and Pb isotopic compositions can vary widely depending on local geological and environmental factors. Therefore, we can use the Sr and Pb isotope composition of skeletal material to determine the birthplace and geographic mobility of a given person or remains. The initial results with a small set of teeth samples from Tampa, Florida, compared to teeth from foreigners show that Sr isotopes can be used to distinguish locals from foreigners.
    • We test bone, hair or tooth samples.