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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Staff and Governance

To contact the IMEMS administrative office please use the following details:

E: admin.imems@durham.ac.uk

T: 0191 334 2974

Core Staff

The day-to-day running of IMEMS is the responsibility of the Core Executive Committee, comprising the Director and Associate Directors and the Administrator. 

Publication details for Dr Andrew R Millard

Laffoon, JE, Shuler, K, Millard, AR, Connelly, JN & Schroeder, H (2019). Isotopic evidence for anthropogenic lead exposure on a 17th/18th century Barbadian plantation. American Journal of Physical Anthropology

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Objectives
To identify and characterize anthropogenic lead sources on a 17th/18th century Barbadian plantation and to test if lead isotope analyses can be used to identify the geographic origins of first‐generation African captives.

Materials and Methods
We carried out lead (Pb) isotope analyses on dental enamel samples from 24 individuals from the Newton Plantation Cemetery in Barbados, which had previously been analyzed for strontium (Sr) and oxygen (O) isotope composition (Schroeder et al., American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 2009, 139:547–557) and Pb concentrations (Schroeder et al., American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 2013, 150:203–209.

Results
We are able to identify British Pb sources, and more specifically Bristol/Mendips Pb, as the most likely source of anthropogenic Pb on the plantation, highlighting the impact of the British Atlantic economy on the lives of enslaved peoples in Barbados during the period of plantation slavery. Furthermore, we find that there is only one clear outlier among seven individuals who had previously been identified as African‐born based on their enamel Sr isotope composition (Schroeder et al., American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 2009, 139:547–557). All other individuals present a very homogenous Pb isotope composition, which overlaps with that of British Pb sources.

Conclusion
Our results indicate that while Pb isotope analyses can help identify and further characterize the sources of anthropogenic Pb in plantation settings, they might not be suited for identifying the origins of African‐born individuals in diasporic contexts.


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