Identifying immigrants to Tikal, Guatemala: Defining local variability in strontium isotope ratios of human tooth enamel Academic Article uri icon


  • Stable strontium isotopes have been used to identify the skeletons of migrants in several recent archaeological studies, in which local 87Sr/86Sr values have been inferred through statistical parameters of human 87Sr/86Sr data, or by reference to local fauna or other environmental samples. This paper compares these approaches using data from the ancient Maya city of Tikal, Guatemala. The skeletons of eight migrants from distant geological zones are readily apparent among the 83 Tikal skeletons sampled. Three additional non-local skeletons can be eliminated to obtain a normally distributed "local" Tikal sample. The mean of this sample is higher than the available data for local fauna and for lime that may have been used to treat maize at Tikal. It is possible that imported sea salt with a high 87Sr/86Sr ratio could account for this elevated mean for Tikal humans. Modeling demonstrates that dietary 87Sr/86Sr may be raised to the level found at Tikal by a daily intake of only 6 g of sea salt. 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 5.136

author list (cited authors)

  • Wright, L. E.

citation count

  • 174

complete list of authors

  • Wright, LE

publication date

  • January 2005