Methods

Our research questions will be addressed using carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and strontium isotope analyses on animal bones and high-crowned cattle and deer molars.

Oxygen isotope ratios (δ18O) are measured as a proxy for climatic alteration and evidence for herding in different altitudes. They also provide key seasonal information and give a seasonal link to the spatial signals of strontium isotope data (87Sr/86Sr) that reflect the geological conditions of the feeding grounds. Strontium isotope data are achieved through conventional and laser ablation measurements. LA-ICP-MS (Laser Ablation Inductive Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry) allows the currently highest possible intra-tooth spatial resolution of isotope variations.

Geographic interpretation of the isotope information are supported by comparative analysis of faunal teeth from supposedly local animals from archaeological contexts as well as modern water and vegetation data collected in the field.

Carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen isotope ratios (δ15N) inform us about environmental conditions of the pasture grounds, including density of the forest cover and humidity, as well as feeding on manured agricultural plots.

All data are analysed statistically and integrated in a geographical information system (GIS), enabling their careful modelling and interpretation.