King Richard III
Health & Science
Richard III, the hunchbacked king who lived in the 15th century, liked his liquor
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/ ... story.html
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/ar ... 0314002428
Richard was born in Northamptonshire in 1452 and became King of England in 1483 at the age of 30, ruling for 26 months before being killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. The unique discovery has provided an opportunity to apply isotope techniques to his skeleton in order to reconstruct the life history of this Late Medieval king, including his childhood origins and movements, the level of contamination to which he was exposed, and a recreation of his dietary history, including the impact of becoming King. From the skeleton we sequentially analysed bioapatite and collagen from two teeth (a second premolar with root intact and a second molar crown) which formed during Richard's childhood and early adolescence, and from two bones: the femur (which averages long-term conditions) and the rib (which remodels faster and represents the last few years of life). The use of isotope techniques applied to different parts of a skeleton in order to construct a life history is still unusual in archaeology but has been attempted successfully by a handful of authors (Sealy et al., 1995, Cox and Sealy, 1997, Schroeder et al., 2009, Pollard et al., 2012, Bell et al., 2001 and Chenery et al., 2014).
We can reconstruct where Richard may have resided as a child, as oxygen and strontium isotopes are fixed in enamel biogenic phosphate at the time of tooth formation and, once fixed, will not change during life, nor alter in the burial environment (Hillson, 1996, Price et al., 2002 and Hoppe et al., 2003). Strontium isotopes (87Sr/86Sr) are derived from diet and largely relate to the geology of the area where the food was produced (Price et al., 2002). Oxygen isotopes are derived primarily from ingested fluids and reflect the isotopic value of available drinking water, the oxygen isotope composition (δ18O) of which will largely be determined by global water cycles and thus will vary systematically with location (Dansgaard, 1964). Hence, δ18O and 87Sr/86Sr isotope ratios should provide constraints for place of origin and any subsequent geographical movements. Lead is a pollutant, and its incorporation in human tissue is related to the development of mining and metalworking. The principal causes of lead poisoning in humans are the use of lead in plumbing in soft water areas, the deliberate ingestion of bioavailable lead compounds (such as lead acetate used to sweeten wine), and the ingestion of lead compounds within, for example, medicines (Montgomery et al., 2010). Access to such materials tends to be the domain of the wealthy and hence lead contamination could be seen as a measure of status. The carbon and nitrogen isotope composition of collagen extracted from bone is the most commonly used technique for assessing dietary contributions and variations (Sealy, 2001, Ambrose and Norr, 1993 and Schoeninger and DeNiro, 1984). Nitrogen isotope ratios (δ15N) primarily reflect the trophic level of the subject. There is a step-wise increase in δ15N through each trophic level; thus herbivores will have values between +3 and +5‰ above the plants upon which they graze, while carnivores will record values +3 – +5‰ higher than herbivores from the same ecosystem. Extended food chains, involving several carnivorous steps, produce the highest δ15N values and long food chains are typical of aquatic systems. Animal tissues will also reflect the carbon isotope ratios (δ13C) of the plants and animals consumed and can distinguish between marine and terrestrial sources of carbon (Schoeninger and DeNiro, 1984).
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