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Sea, sickness and cautionary tales: a multi-isotope study from a post-mediaeval hospital at the city-port of Gibraltar (AD 1462–1704)

Sea, sickness and cautionary tales: a multi-isotope study from a post-mediaeval hospital at the city-port of Gibraltar (AD 1462–1704)
Sea, sickness and cautionary tales: a multi-isotope study from a post-mediaeval hospital at the city-port of Gibraltar (AD 1462–1704)
During the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, Spanish ships sailed around the globe connecting Spain to its colonies. While documentary records offer rich details concerning life on board ship, archaeological information is essential to generating a full picture of the past. The cemetery at Old St Bernard’s Hospital, Gibraltar, provides an opportunity to study the skeletal remains of sailors. Following previous osteological research, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and strontium isotope analyses were undertaken on thirty-three of these individuals. The results show that the, largely male, individuals had various different diets during life and came from several different places. Diets were largely based on C3 food chains; some individuals consumed C3 foods with low δ13C values; others consumed some marine foods, and a few individuals had a high trophic level diet, through the consumption of either freshwater resources or a high proportion of animal protein. The individuals spent their childhoods in several different places, although these homelands do not correlate simply with dietary variation. This variety in diets and homelands is consistent with our expectations for this hospital site given its location in a post-mediaeval entrepôt. The interpretation of these results are greatly helped by the available historical information and this has broader implications for the interpretation of isotope data elsewhere where the historical context of the site and the mobility patterns of the individuals are less well known.
Collagen, Enamel, Hospital, Mobility, Palaeodiet
1866-9557
Lightfoot, Emma
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Pomeroy, Emma
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Grant, Jennifer
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O'Connell, Tamsin C.
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Le Roux, Petrus
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Zakrzewski, Sonia
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Inskip, Sarah
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Benady, Sam
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Finlayson, Clive
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Finlayson, Geraldine
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Lane, Kevin
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Lightfoot, Emma
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Pomeroy, Emma
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Grant, Jennifer
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O'Connell, Tamsin C.
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Le Roux, Petrus
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Zakrzewski, Sonia
d80afd94-feff-4fe8-96e9-f3db79bba99d
Inskip, Sarah
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Benady, Sam
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Finlayson, Clive
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Finlayson, Geraldine
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Lane, Kevin
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Lightfoot, Emma, Pomeroy, Emma, Grant, Jennifer, O'Connell, Tamsin C., Le Roux, Petrus, Zakrzewski, Sonia, Inskip, Sarah, Benady, Sam, Finlayson, Clive, Finlayson, Geraldine and Lane, Kevin (2020) Sea, sickness and cautionary tales: a multi-isotope study from a post-mediaeval hospital at the city-port of Gibraltar (AD 1462–1704). Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 12, [273]. (doi:10.1007/s12520-020-01220-0).

Record type: Article

Abstract

During the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, Spanish ships sailed around the globe connecting Spain to its colonies. While documentary records offer rich details concerning life on board ship, archaeological information is essential to generating a full picture of the past. The cemetery at Old St Bernard’s Hospital, Gibraltar, provides an opportunity to study the skeletal remains of sailors. Following previous osteological research, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and strontium isotope analyses were undertaken on thirty-three of these individuals. The results show that the, largely male, individuals had various different diets during life and came from several different places. Diets were largely based on C3 food chains; some individuals consumed C3 foods with low δ13C values; others consumed some marine foods, and a few individuals had a high trophic level diet, through the consumption of either freshwater resources or a high proportion of animal protein. The individuals spent their childhoods in several different places, although these homelands do not correlate simply with dietary variation. This variety in diets and homelands is consistent with our expectations for this hospital site given its location in a post-mediaeval entrepôt. The interpretation of these results are greatly helped by the available historical information and this has broader implications for the interpretation of isotope data elsewhere where the historical context of the site and the mobility patterns of the individuals are less well known.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 7 October 2020
e-pub ahead of print date: 9 November 2020
Keywords: Collagen, Enamel, Hospital, Mobility, Palaeodiet

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 445522
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/445522
ISSN: 1866-9557
PURE UUID: 79aadaa3-dbba-4043-ac5e-96af3f82ed3b
ORCID for Sonia Zakrzewski: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-1796-065X

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 14 Dec 2020 17:32
Last modified: 26 Nov 2021 02:47

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Contributors

Author: Emma Lightfoot
Author: Emma Pomeroy
Author: Jennifer Grant
Author: Tamsin C. O'Connell
Author: Petrus Le Roux
Author: Sarah Inskip
Author: Sam Benady
Author: Clive Finlayson
Author: Geraldine Finlayson
Author: Kevin Lane

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