Reconstructing seasonality using δ18O in incremental layers of human enamel: a test of the analytical protocol developed for SHRIMP IIe/MC ion microprobe

Ewa Krzemińska, Arkadiusz Sołtysiak, Zbigniew Jan Czupyt


 A number of recent studies dealing with palaeoclimate and environmental reconstruction include the measurement of oxygen isotope composition of mammalian teeth. Some of them analyse a temporal sequence of the changes recorded in bioapatite from enamel layers representing the whole period of tooth development. Enamel samples display large intra-tooth δ18O variations that may reflect a seasonal fluctuation in the δ18O of local palaeoclimate parameters. The present paper provides an effective analytical protocol for sequential δ18O analysis of human teeth using SHRIMP IIe/MC ion microprobe. It is possible to follow the inner enamel layer along enamel-dentine junction on a high spatial scale in a range about 0.02 mm of spot diameter and 0.12–0.14 mm of the distance between spots. Using the methodology described herein, we can achieve an external precision for δ18O analysis <0.2‰ (1σ). The number of 60 to 90 single analyses covering the enamel layer between the incisal and apical ends is enough to obtain temporal resolution of less than one month and to document precisely seasonal fluctuation caused by local environmental and climate factors. The methodology of δ18O in situ measurements has been tested on human teeth from Tell Majnuna, a 4th millennium BCE cemetery in Northern Mesopotamia, which is a relatively arid area with high seasonal differences in precipitation and temperature. Observed pattern of δ18O variations is consistent with expected seasonal fluctuations, although the overall effect is blurred by some inertia in the enamel maturation.



palaeoclimate; bioapatite; human teeth; sequential microsampling; Middle East; Mesopotamia

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