Trace element analysis

Julie Farnum, Mary K. Sandford

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Evaluation of dietary components and the general health of early peoples has been advanced through the use of analyses of skeletal materials for major, minor, and trace elements. Early work, during the 1970s, optimistically focused on developing new analytical techniques and baseline data. Three basic approaches to trace element studies involved the analysis of single elements (such as lead or iron), multiple elements, and ratios of elements (such as strontium and calcium). The use of multiple methods of analysis for the same set of samples, coupled with statistical methods and cautious interpretations, can yield useful data. The data collected from archaeological remains are often put into context by comparing it with data gained from living modern peoples. Used together, this information can shed light on archaeological diet, lifestyles, and health, and, in some cases, expand our knowledge of modern health. © 2008

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Archaeology
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages3
ISBN (Print)9780123739629
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2008


  • Barium
  • Bone
  • Diagenesis
  • Diet
  • Marine
  • Multielemental analysis
  • Strontium
  • Terrestrial
  • Trace elements
  • Zinc


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