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Researchers from the University of Bradford investigate Charterhouse remains

Published: Thu 3 Apr 2014

In 2013, Crossrail engineers discovered the remains of 25 individuals in Charterhouse Square, London. A team of researchers from Durham and Bradford Universities have carried out scientific investigation of their teeth to establish where these individuals originated from and their dietary histories throughout childhood.

In 2013, Crossrail engineers discovered the remains of 25 individuals in Charterhouse Square, London. A team of researchers from Durham and Bradford Universities have carried out scientific investigation of their teeth to establish where these individuals originated from and their dietary histories throughout childhood.

Teeth incorporate chemical elements from the food and drink we ingest, and the isotope ratios of these elements are reliable indicators of where an individual resided during childhood and to identify periods of nutritional stress and dietary change throughout childhood.

Dr Janet Montgomery and Dr Geoff Nowell from the University of Durham concluded that 4 out of the 10 individuals came to London from a variety of places. This confirms a previous study funded by the AHRC and NERC, which her research team undertook at the other known London Black Death cemetery at the Royal Mint, East Smithfield (Kendall et al. 2013). London was clearly then, as now, a magnet for visitors and migrants.

Using a novel technique developed at the University of Bradford Stable Isotope Laboratory, Dr Julia Beaumont and her colleagues Dr. Jacqueline Towers and Andy Gledhill obtained dietary life-histories from tiny incremental samples along the tooth.  Surprisingly, the diet of two individuals changed from meat-based to vegetarian during adolescence. Perhaps, less surprisingly given that towns in the Medieval period were unhealthy places to live, the researchers found that the stressed individuals were Londoners.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26770334

 

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