|Last night Professor Janet Montgomery gave a fascinating talk to a packed room of SWAAG members and visitors. To quote from the abstract of one of her papers on the subject;
"Identifying people of exotic origins with isotopes depends upon finding isotopic attributes that are inconsistent with the indigenous population. This task is seldom straightforward and may vary with physical geography, through time, and with cultural practices. Isotopes and trace elements were measured in four Viking Age (8th to 10th centuries A.D.) skeletons from Dublin, Ireland, and three from Westness, Orkney. These were compared with other data from these locations and contemporaneous skeletons from Britain. We conclude that the male skeletons from Dublin have disparate origins, two originating beyond the shores of Ireland, and that the female and two male skeletons from Westness are not indigenous to Orkney. However, the homeland of the female, in contrast to the males, is unlikely to be in Scandinavia."
(Finding Vikings with Isotope Analysis: The View from Wet and Windy Islands
Janet Montgomery, Vaughan Grimes, Jo Buckberry, Jane A. Evans, Michael P. Richards, James H. Barrett)
Janet also talked about exciting discoveries in the way tooth enamel peptides can enable determination of sex, even in neonate and juvenile skeletons. This new technique will heve a wide range of appplications in archaeology.