Re­searcher gets £100,000 to aid an­ces­try project

Univer­sity: Ar­chae­ol­o­gist‘hon­oured’tow­in­prize

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS - BY NEIL DRYS­DALE

BARE BONES: Kate Brit­ton has been given a Philip Lev­er­hulme Prize for her work in sta­ble iso­tope anal­y­sis An Aberdeen Univer­sity ar­chae­ol­o­gist has been awarded £ 100,000 to ad­vance her pioneer­ing work ex­plor­ing mod­ern Scots’ an­ces­tors through the study of their bone chem­istry.

Kate Brit­ton has been given a 2019 Philip Lev­er­hulme Prize by the Lev­er­hulme Trust, which has sup­ported 30 “ex­cep­tional re­searchers” to the tune of £3 mil­lion.

She is a spe­cial­ist in sta­ble iso­tope anal­y­sis, an ar­chae­o­log­i­cal tech­nique used in the re­con­struc­tion of past di­ets, move­ments, and en­vi­ron­ments.

As peo­ple grow up and their tis­sues re­new them­selves, the iso­topes in food and liq­uids are incorporat­ed into ev­ery­one’s body tis­sues, in­clud­ing the skele­ton.

By mea­sur­ing the ra­tios of dif­fer­ent iso­topes in bones or teeth and us­ing sci­en­tific knowl­edge about how they oc­cur in na­ture to trace them back to their source, ar­chae­ol­o­gists can find out many things about in­di­vid­u­als, such as their diet and the en­vi­ron­ment in which they lived.

Ms Brit­ton’s fund­ing will al­low her to de­velop two projects, one look­ing at Scot­land’s palae­olithic past and the other ex­plor­ing life in cities around the North Sea in the me­dieval and early mod­ern pe­riod.

She said: “It is a very great hon­our to re­ceive this award.

“Scot­land was of­ten con­sid­ered un­in­hab­it­able un­til af­ter the end of the last Ice Age and has been largely ab­sent from the study of the Palae­olithic past.

“In re­cent years, new ev­i­dence has emerged, and I’m re­ally keen to build on that. In the me­dieval and early mod­ern pe­riod, the North Sea was a melt­ing pot of com­mod­ity, cul­tural ex­change and com­mu­nity – a sub­ject that has re­ceived sig­nif­i­cant at­ten­tion from his­to­ri­ans, but lit­tle from bio-ar­chae­ol­o­gists.

“In this pe­riod, ur­ban life as we know it in North­ern Europe was emerg­ing – legally and eco­nom­i­cally, but also so­cio-cul­tur­ally and bi­o­log­i­cally.

“Our cur­rent re­search is pro­vid­ing novel in­sights into food­ways and cul­tural norms dur­ing this pe­riod in Scot­land, il­lu­mi­nat­ing life in cities at the ‘fringe’ of the North Sea world.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.