Short Report

Scope and Limitations of Stable Isotope Analysis in Indian Archaeology

Authors: Sangeeta Mahajan & Vijay Sathe

Year: 2020, Volume: 11, Page/Article: 1, DOI:

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Stable isotopes of lighter elements are frequently used to understand diet and ecology of ancient population in the western world. In India however, in spite of the infrastructure being available for stable isotope analysis, its usage to date is limited to geological and oceanographical studies. Its applications in investigating archaeological questions are still uncommon. Stable isotopes can be used to satisfy various hypotheses pertaining to an archaeological site in multiple ways. In this article, taking two recent stable isotope studies into consideration (one based on human teeth and another on faunal teeth), the scope and limitations of use of stable isotope analysis in archaeology are extended in detail. The differences in selection of samples, sampling procedures, methodologies and interpretations while working on human as against faunal teeth are discussed discretely.