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How does isotopic testing locate Jane's origin?

Additional, discrete ethnic data about these bones found at James Fort come from isotopic testing. Stored within our bone structure is stable data that contain heavy oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon isotopes. Some of this data is locked in to our skeletal structure as we develop to adulthood, whereas other data accumulates as we consume different types of food. Oxygen isotopes are stored in our teeth in childhood and can be used with other information to determine where a person grew up.

Testing the bone's stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes indicated this young woman was a recent immigrant; the chemical composition of the bone reflects a European, wheat-based diet and not an American, corn-based diet. Jane's isotopic values told the story of a middle- to upper-class individual born along the coastal plains of southern England. Or was she a maidservant eating the same food as the gentry she served?

Jane's Isotopic Signature Found in Her Bones

The bone fragments found in the L-shaped cellar in James Fort in the summer of 2012.

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