July 25, 2008

Edamus, bibamus, gaudeamus!

My Roman immigrants (and locals) are headed on a new journey, to a world they never knew existed: exotic southern Florida. In between my trips to the geochem lab today to check on their enamel counterparts, my Romans yielded their midshaft femora to my whims. I used my trusty Buehler (which just happened to come with a "bone chuck") to slice off a sliver of femur from each of 52 individuals from my two sites. I chose these individuals to represent a cross-section of the population, from babies to old folks, although I'm testing more people from Casal Bertone than from Castellaccio to make a nod to proportional sampling. At any rate, here's a picture of them nestled all cozily in plastic bags, ready to be boxed, shipped, and destroyed for the sake of figuring out the ancient Roman diet. (You know what they kinda look like?)

Their bone collagen and apatite will be digested (very appropriate) and run for isotopes of carbon and nitrogen, which will indicate the proportion of the diet made up of meat, legumes, fish, and vegetables. For the babies, I might even be able to tell when they were weaned. Although this analysis is destructive, fortunately I only had to send a couple grams of bone for each person, which means I still have most of the samples I took. Ave atque vale, Romani.


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