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Applying lead (Pb) isotopes to explore mobility in humans and animals

Evans, Jane A., Pashley, Vanessa, Mee, Katy, Wagner, Doris, Parker Pearson, Mike, Fremondeau, Delphine, Albarella, Umberto and Madgwick, Richard ORCID: 2022. Applying lead (Pb) isotopes to explore mobility in humans and animals. PLoS ONE 17 (10) , e0274831. 10.1371/journal.pone.0274831

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Lead (Pb) isotopes provide a complementary method to other provenance tools for tracking the origin and movement of humans and animals. The method is founded in the geographic distribution of Pb isotope ratios. However, unlike the Sr isotope method that is closely linked to the lithology of underlying rocks, Pb more closely reflects the tectonic regimes. This makes it particularly pertinent to use in Britain as there is major tectonic boundary (the Iapetus Suture) that runs between Berwick-upon-Tweed and the Solway Firth providing a compositional boundary in Pb isotope domains that approximates to the geographic areas of Scotland versus England and Wales. Modern pollution makes it difficult to use modern floral or faunal samples to characterize biosphere variation, and so we use geological datasets to define isoscape variation and present the first Pb isotope map of Britain. We have validated the use of these data form biosphere studies using well provenanced samples. Reference fields of diagnostic compositions, are created in μ-T space and these have been used in a test case to assess the geographic origins of Neolithic animals in Great Britain.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Additional Information: License information from Publisher: LICENSE 1: URL:
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 27 October 2022
Date of Acceptance: 6 September 2022
Last Modified: 23 May 2023 19:24

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