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David Osborne

Stable isotopes analysis of fallow deer (Dama dama) antler from Iron Age and Roman sites in Britain


Fallow deer remains are rare in archaeological deposits from Iron Age and Roman Britain and with a few exceptions (e.g. Sykes et al.2006, 949–950; Sykes et al. 2011) it seems that many of these early specimens may have been imported. This is particularly the case for shed antlers, which are the most common skeletal part recovered from north European contexts (Sykes et al. 2011). My MSc dissertation will undertake isotopic (13C and 15N) of archaeological antlers to determine whether there is any evidence to suggest that these specimens were imported from populations in the Mediterranean (Stevens et al. 2006 has highlighted a correlation between 13C and 15N, temperature and aridity) or if they are consistent with locally established herds. The archaeological investigation will be set against a study of modern fallow deer antlers of known provenance. This modern study will also examine if and how isotopic signatures change through the body of the antler to determine whether these skeletal elements can provide high-resolution information about animal diet during antler growth.




Stevens, R.E, Lister, A.M., Hedges R.E.M., 2006. Predicting diet, trophic level and palaeoecology from bone stable isotope analysis: a comparative study of five red deer

populations, Oecologia 149(1), 12–21.


Sykes, N. J., J. White, T. E. Hayes, M. R. Palmer, 2006. Tracking animals using strontium

isotopes in teeth: the role of fallow deer (Dama dama) in Roman Britain. Antiquity 80, 948–949.


Sykes, N. J., K. H. Baker, R. F. Carden, T. F. Higham, A. R. Hoelzel, R. H. Stevens, 2011. New evidence for the establishment and management of the European fallow deer (Dama dama dama) in Roman Britain. Journal of Archaeological Science 38, 156–165.








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