Preanalytical processing of archaeological mammal enamel apatite carbonates for stable isotope investigations: A comparative analysis of the effect of acid treatment on samples from Northwest Australia

Jane Skippington, Peter Veth, Tiina Manne, Michael Slack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Stable isotopic analysis of palaeontological and archaeological biogenic apatite carbonates from herbivorous mammalian species represents an important tool for worldwide palaeoecological research. Tooth enamel carbonates are more resistant to taphonomic processes than bone or dentine carbonates but are not invulnerable to diagenesis. As such, they require careful preanalytical processing that considers depositional environment and age. An established part of this process includes a weak acid treatment to remove soluble exogenous carbonates; however, published treatment times for isotopic studies of archaeological tooth enamel are variable and range from 15 min to over 8 hr. This study tests three different pretreatment protocols on modern and Pleistocene age archaeological kangaroo teeth (dating from contemporary to 46,000 bp) to assess the effect of acid treatment time on isotopic integrity. The results indicate that treatment time is a critical parameter for producing consistency across results and shorter pretreatments of 4 hr or less are preferable for removing diagenetic carbonates while minimising alteration of the biological signal.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Osteoarchaeology
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 May 2019

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integrity
Apatite
Comparative Analysis
Stable Isotopes
Archaeology
Mammals
Enamel
Carbonate
time
Pretreatment
Tooth Enamel
Teeth
Pleistocene
Diagenesis
Integrity
Alteration
Isotopic Analysis
Dentin

Cite this

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title = "Preanalytical processing of archaeological mammal enamel apatite carbonates for stable isotope investigations: A comparative analysis of the effect of acid treatment on samples from Northwest Australia",
abstract = "Stable isotopic analysis of palaeontological and archaeological biogenic apatite carbonates from herbivorous mammalian species represents an important tool for worldwide palaeoecological research. Tooth enamel carbonates are more resistant to taphonomic processes than bone or dentine carbonates but are not invulnerable to diagenesis. As such, they require careful preanalytical processing that considers depositional environment and age. An established part of this process includes a weak acid treatment to remove soluble exogenous carbonates; however, published treatment times for isotopic studies of archaeological tooth enamel are variable and range from 15 min to over 8 hr. This study tests three different pretreatment protocols on modern and Pleistocene age archaeological kangaroo teeth (dating from contemporary to 46,000 bp) to assess the effect of acid treatment time on isotopic integrity. The results indicate that treatment time is a critical parameter for producing consistency across results and shorter pretreatments of 4 hr or less are preferable for removing diagenetic carbonates while minimising alteration of the biological signal.",
keywords = "enamel carbonates, isotopes, kangaroo, mammal, Northwest Australia, Palaeo-environment, pretreatment, zooarchaeology",
author = "Jane Skippington and Peter Veth and Tiina Manne and Michael Slack",
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AU - Manne, Tiina

AU - Slack, Michael

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N2 - Stable isotopic analysis of palaeontological and archaeological biogenic apatite carbonates from herbivorous mammalian species represents an important tool for worldwide palaeoecological research. Tooth enamel carbonates are more resistant to taphonomic processes than bone or dentine carbonates but are not invulnerable to diagenesis. As such, they require careful preanalytical processing that considers depositional environment and age. An established part of this process includes a weak acid treatment to remove soluble exogenous carbonates; however, published treatment times for isotopic studies of archaeological tooth enamel are variable and range from 15 min to over 8 hr. This study tests three different pretreatment protocols on modern and Pleistocene age archaeological kangaroo teeth (dating from contemporary to 46,000 bp) to assess the effect of acid treatment time on isotopic integrity. The results indicate that treatment time is a critical parameter for producing consistency across results and shorter pretreatments of 4 hr or less are preferable for removing diagenetic carbonates while minimising alteration of the biological signal.

AB - Stable isotopic analysis of palaeontological and archaeological biogenic apatite carbonates from herbivorous mammalian species represents an important tool for worldwide palaeoecological research. Tooth enamel carbonates are more resistant to taphonomic processes than bone or dentine carbonates but are not invulnerable to diagenesis. As such, they require careful preanalytical processing that considers depositional environment and age. An established part of this process includes a weak acid treatment to remove soluble exogenous carbonates; however, published treatment times for isotopic studies of archaeological tooth enamel are variable and range from 15 min to over 8 hr. This study tests three different pretreatment protocols on modern and Pleistocene age archaeological kangaroo teeth (dating from contemporary to 46,000 bp) to assess the effect of acid treatment time on isotopic integrity. The results indicate that treatment time is a critical parameter for producing consistency across results and shorter pretreatments of 4 hr or less are preferable for removing diagenetic carbonates while minimising alteration of the biological signal.

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KW - isotopes

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KW - mammal

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KW - Palaeo-environment

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