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Journal Articles American Journal of Physical Anthropology Year : 2017

Copper and zinc isotope compositions in human bone and enamel


Objectives: Here, we report Cu and Zn isotope ratios of bones and teeth of French people from various historical periods with the aim to understand how Cu and Zn isotope ratios of bone, a tissue that is continuously remodeled throughout life but that is prone to post-mortem diagenesis, compare with that of tooth enamel, a tissue that forms once during childhood but that is more resistant to diagenesis. Specifically, we examine (1) the potential existence of sex-related differences in the Cu isotope ratios (represented as d65Cu) in the tooth enamel of identified men and 11 women, and (2) a decrease of Zn isotope delta ratios (represented as d66Zn) related to the increase 12 of meat and fish consumption during the 20th century. 13 Methods: Four series of material were studied: the archeological population of Saint-Laurent de 14 Grenoble (17th–18th centuries AD), an anatomical collection of skulls (19th century AD), a contemporary anatomical collection of bones never buried, and contemporary teeth samples. The metals 16 were purified by liquid chromatography and their isotopic ratios measured by means of multicollector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. 18 Results: We describe a clear offset between bone and tooth enamel for Zn isotope ratios, as previously observed in animals. There is a similar offset for Cu isotope ratios. We did not observe any difference between the d65Cu values of men and women when looking at dental enamel. For the contemporary samples, the d66Zn values of bioapatite decreased, which might be explained by the increase of animal product consumption among the French people during this period, notably when the access to seafood became widespread. Conclusions: Our study demonstrates that the Cu and Zn isotope compositions of dental enamel are promising tools for childhood diet reconstruction. Meanwhile, the Cu isotope ratio of tooth enamel is unlikely to be useful for the identification of biological sex, even in the case of populations with early menarche. Further works are needed to understand the relationships between trophic level and Zn isotope ratios of human remains.
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hal-01411000 , version 1 (06-12-2016)



Klervia Jaouen, Estelle Herrscher, Vincent Balter. Copper and zinc isotope compositions in human bone and enamel. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 2017, 162 (3), ⟨10.1002/ajpa.23132⟩. ⟨hal-01411000⟩
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