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Investigating Infant Feeding Strategies at Roman Bainesse through Bayesian Modelling of Incremental Dentine Isotopic Data

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JournalInternational Journal of Osteoarchaeology
DateAccepted/In press - 9 Jan 2021
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 13 Jan 2021
Early online date13/01/21
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

We present the first study employing Bayesian modelling of isotopic measurements on dentine increments (five human upper first molars) to address Romano‐British infant feeding practices at Bainesse (UK). The stable carbon and nitrogen isotope results modelled to six‐month intervals with novel OsteoBioR software, revealed some common patterns, with weaning not starting before the age of six months and higher animal protein consumption after the age of seven. The latter possibly indicated a ‘survival’ threshold, evidenced by historical sources and osteological data, hence marking a rise in social status of children. The important role of Bainesse as commercial hub in relation to the fort of Cataractonium does not exclude a priori the possibility that medical treatises and Roman culture were known at the site. However, our results also showed significant intra‐individual differences with weaning cessation taking place between two and five years, suggesting that these were followed only partially and other aspects influenced family decisions on infant feeding practices in Bainesse.

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