Can stable isotope analysis and tooth histology assist in detecting stillbirth? An approach using neonatal remains from the Roman settlement Studen Petinesca

Siebke, Inga; Hossein Moghaddam Horri, Negahnaz; Cunnigham, Craig; Gubler, Regula; Witzel, Carsten; Lösch, Sandra (September 2015). Can stable isotope analysis and tooth histology assist in detecting stillbirth? An approach using neonatal remains from the Roman settlement Studen Petinesca. In: 11th Meeting der Gesellschaft für Anthropologie. 11th Meeting of the Society for Anthropology (p. 99). Munich: GfA

Infant burials in Roman settlements are a common observation. Even though ancient authors provide information many questions remain uncertain. For instance, the burial ritual for stillbirth and infanticide neonates is not specifically mentioned. This study therefore aimed to investigate the application of stable nitrogen (δ15N) and carbon (δ13C) isotopes from neonatal bone collagen in differentiating between a breastfeeding signal and stillbirth or a short survival of less than ten days. For this purpose collagen of 11 human and 14 non-human bones from the Roman settlement Petinesca (1st - 3rd century AD, Switzerland) was extracted and analysed for δ15N and δ13C. Tooth histology was performed for the central incisor and canine of the right mandible in order to investigate the presence of a neonatal line. According to the length of the long bones the age varied between 8.5 lunar months to 2 months ex utero. The stable isotope results provided a breastfeeding signal for all except one individual where the breastfeeding signal was absent. The tooth histological analysis of this individual exhibited no neonatal line. It is concluded that stable isotope analysis could indicate stillbirth or a short survival after birth. The tooth histology confirmed the stable isotope results. Furthermore, this might indicate that the burial ritual did not differentiate between stillbirth and neonates, who died within the time span stated by ancient authors of up to 40 days of age or the appearance of teeth. However, for further justifications additional research is going to be conducted.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)

Division/Institute:

04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine
04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine > Anthropology

UniBE Contributor:

Siebke, Inga; Hossein Moghaddam Horri, Negahnaz and Lösch, Sandra

Subjects:

500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
900 History > 930 History of ancient world (to ca. 499)

Publisher:

GfA

Language:

English

Submitter:

Sandra Lösch

Date Deposited:

14 Dec 2015 11:23

Last Modified:

31 Mar 2016 14:50

Additional Information:

Evolutionary and Modern Challenges to Homo sapiens - an anthropological inquiry

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/73138

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