Workshop: Isotope analysis as a proxy to investigate animal mobility in the past – 8 June 2023

Workshop: Isotope analysis as a proxy to investigate animal mobility in the past – 8 June 2023

Date: 8 June 2023, 13:00-16:30

Location: University of Groningen

Credits: 1 ECT

Over the past decades, stable isotopes have been increasingly used in zooarchaeology and human osteology as a tool to examine ancient societies and their economies. Questions concerning the mobility of herds and people have been central to this line of research. Previously, conventional archaeological methods could only provide indirect evidence for mobility, whereas stable isotope analysis allows the direct examination of human and animal movements in the past.

Advances in stable isotope analysis, however, also brings on new questions and concerns regarding the curation and the interpretation of the growing SI data. Current isotopic research shows that SI data is powerful when integrated into their environmental, archaeological and historical context. Bringing conventional and biochemical archaeology together enables a more holistic understanding of past human decisions and lives.

During this half-day event we bring prominent researchers together to discuss the application of stable isotopes in the study of animal mobility in the past. We aim to showcase the potential of stable isotopes in the field of archaeology and the importance of interdisciplinarity, balanced with critical notes regarding cons of this field. Special focus is given on animal husbandry practices as a proxy to investigate regional economies in the Mediterranean and north-west Europe during the prehistoric and historic periods.


13:00 – 13:30 Registration
13:30 – 13:40 Canan Çakirlar (RUG)
“Welcome and opening remarks”
13:40 – 14:00 Angela Trentacoste (CAU)
“Isotopic insights into early urban provisioning: diet, seasonality, and mobility in Archaic Italy ”
14:00 – 14:20 Silvia Valenzuela Lamas (CISC)
“Animal mobility in ancient Iberia: multi-isotopic results, the importance of referentials, and some challenges for the near future’”
14:20 – 14:40 Chiara Cavallo (UVA)
“Interdisciplinary approach to the presence, origin, and mobility of the lynx in the Netherlands in Roman time”
14:40 – 15:00 Coffee Break
15:00 – 15:20 Canan Çakirlar (RUG)
“Animal mobility in the early Neolithic: isotopic and other proxies ”
15:20 – 15:40 Willemien de Kock (RUG)
“A multidisciplinary approach to investigate long-term habitat use of Mediterranean sea turtles”
15:40 – 16:00 Rachel Winter (RUG)
“Isotopes and proteomics of ancient fish provide ecological baselines for Lessepsian migrations”
16:00 – 16:30 Discussion and final remarks

Assessment: (R)MA and PhD students who attended the workshop should write a paper of 2000-2500 words on both the required reading and the workshop itself. The paper should focus on how the information you have gathered is applicable, and in which way it is applicable, in your own research. Deadline is 8 July 2023, please send your report to

Required reading: 

  • Trentacoste, A., Lightfoot, E., Le Roux, P., Buckley, M., Kansa, S. W., Esposito, C., & Gleba, M. (2020). Heading for the Hills? A Multi-isotope Study of Sheep Management in First-millennium BC Italy. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 29, 1–17.
  • Brusgaard, N. Ø., Fokkens H., and Kootker, L. M. (2019). An isotopic perspective on the socio-economic significance of livestock in Bronze Age West-Frisia, the Netherlands (2000–800 BCE). Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 27.
  • Valenzuela-Lamas, S., Orengo, H. A., Bosch, D., Pellegrini, M. Halstead, P., Nieto-Espinet, A., Trentacoste, A., Jiménez-Manchón, S., López-Reyes, D., & Jornet-Niella, R. (2018). Shipping Amphorae and Shipping Sheep? Livestock Mobility in the North-east Iberian Peninsula During the Iron Age Based on Strontium Isotopic Analyses of Sheep and Goat Tooth Enamel. PLoS ONE, 13(10), 1–14.
  • Makarewicz, C. A. (2017) Stable isotopes in pastoralist archaeology as indicators of diet, mobility, and animal husbandry practices. In A. Ventresca Miller and C. A. Makarewicz (eds). “Isotopic Investigations of Pastoralism in Prehistory”. 141-158. London: Routledge. Makarewicz2018_SIA_pastoralists-libre.pdf (

Credits: ARCHON members can receive 1 ECT for reading literature upfront, attending the workshop and write a paper following the workshop (^^).

Registration: Please send an email to Dimitris Filioglou: and please inform him that you are an ARCHON member.