My interests in stable isotopes are defined by the work of
the group as a whole. That is to say in recovering palaeodietary and
environmental information concerning humans and animals in an archaeological
context. This work has close connections with radiocarbon dating (where
carbon flux is an essential basis), with the diagenetic alteration of bone
during burial, and with the identification of surviving biomolecules.
Since collagen bulk carbon and nitrogen isotopic values give
at best only two values with which to describe and quantify diet, I am
concerned to expand the basis of information available. One approach being
taken is at the individual amino acid level. Another is the study of other
isotopes such as sulphur, hydrogen and oxygen, and also collaborative
development work on calcium and boron.
Advances in methodology are likely to come from the
interaction between field data, experimental studies, including living
populations and an appropriate level of metabolic modelling, and the research
of the group aims to address these. A particular developing interest of mine
is bone turnover rates and the recovery of time-dependent information.