Master of Arts
Welch, Paul D.
Understanding the composition of paleodiets is crucially important for the archaeological investigation of lifeways and subsistence practices within ancient societies. Among the numerous research methods capable of investigating various elements of paleodiets, the use of stable isotope analysis has become increasingly popular. Advantages of this research technique include its ability to recognize multiple types of dietary inputs through the examination of stable carbon and stable nitrogen isotopes, and to investigate dietary composition and variation at an individual level. This research paper examines how this methodology has developed through time. Specific attention will be directed toward both the procedural advances that continue to reshape the utility of this method, as well as changes in the theoretical assumptions that have guided its application.