Photo: Tasneem Bashir working on extraction of bone at Institute of Technology, Sligo
Elemental analysis was undertaken by Ms Tasneem Bashir under the supervision of Dr Ted McGowan at the Institute of Technology, Sligo. Trace element and stable isotope analyses have the potential to reveal insights into dietary, social, environmental and toxicological influences on a past population. Elements which have all been found to correlate with diet include strontium, calcium, barium, magnesium, manganese, iron, zinc and copper. Diets which are rich in seafood show high levels of strontium and magnesium and low levels of barium while terrestrial diets generally result in low levels of strontium and magnesium and higher levels of barium. Herbivorous diets are high in strontium, barium and magnesium but low in concentrations of zinc, while the opposite is true of carnivorous diets. A variety of analytical techniques have been employed to examine the trace element levels and the stable isotope levels within the Ballyhanna collection.