Dr. Saskia Ryan
Max Planck-Harvard Research Center for the Archaeoscience of the Ancient Mediterranean (MHAAM)
My research interests are in the spatial and temporal variation in isotopes within the biosphere, and how these variations can be used to reconstruct past human migration. Geochemical signatures, i.e. elemental and isotopic values, which are established from the contemporary environment using water, plants, soil and rock can be related to the archaeological record using corresponding isotope values from ancient teeth and bones – in doing so, this gives geographical context to past people of unknown or debated origin. My current project is specifically examining the movement of people across the ancient trade routes of the Mediterranean to Sardinia, potentially from regions including Phoenicia and Carthage. For this, I use spatial discrimination with integrated multi-isotope measurements of light stable isotopes (δ18O, δ2H) in bone collagen in combination with strontium isotopes (87Sr/86Sr) from tooth enamel. This research also extends to the reconstruction of ancient subsistence practises using δ13C and δ15N isotope values from both archaeological humans and a range of animal species.