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Spatial variation in bioavailable strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr) in Kenya and northern Tanzania: Implications for ecology, paleoanthropology, and archaeology

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Janzen,  Anneke
Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Roberts,  Patrick
Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Janzen, A., Bataille, C., Copeland, S. R., Quinn, R. L., Ambrose, S. H., Reed, D., et al. (2020). Spatial variation in bioavailable strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr) in Kenya and northern Tanzania: Implications for ecology, paleoanthropology, and archaeology. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 560: 109957, pp. 1-18. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2020.109957.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-DAED-A
Abstract
Eastern Africa is a key region for studying archaeological, palaeontological, and ecological movements. This region hosts critical developments in hominin and human evolution, the dispersal of food-producing populations across the continent, and some of the largest known contemporary mammalian migrations on the planet. Strontium isotope analysis of biominerals such as tooth enamel, eggshell, and other tissues in modern animals have been used to reconstruct migration, residential mobility, and provenience. The diverse geologies of Kenya and Tanzania, ranging from the Archaean Basement System rocks of the Tanzanian Craton to the recent volcanics of rift valleys, make it a highly promising area for mobility and provenience studies using strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr). Nevertheless, the application of strontium isotope analysis to reconstruct migration and individual mobility has been limited in the region due to the lack of a map predicting biologically available (bioavailable) 87Sr/86Sr. We present bioavailable 87Sr/86Sr data from a variety of modern and archaeological materials throughout Kenya and northern Tanzania. We show that 87Sr/86Srr of living organisms in the study area range from as low as 0.70439 for samples collected from Neogene volcanics to 0.72796 for samples collected from Precambrian Basement System rocks. We also present an 87Sr/86Sr map (isoscape) of Kenya and Tanzania developed using a machine-learning framework and a compilation of bioavailable 87Sr/86Sr data from Africa. This map provides the first predictions of bioavailable 87Sr/86Sr for East Africa, and represents a crucial resource for future work on ancient and modern animal and human mobility.