About Us

Part of the Institute for Prehistoric and Historic Archaeology,
ASIL focuses primarily on investigating questions relating to ancient human activity and paleoenvironment through isotopic analyses of biogenic tissues including bone, teeth, hair, plant remains, and silica bodies. The lab is currently engaged in multiple projects including:

• documenting animal husbandry practices in modern, traditionally herded animals
• investigating the role of human manipulation of animal diets in the domestication process
• evaluating the impact of Mesolithic foraging activity on lowland European landscapes
• provisioning of medieval monastic communities in northern Germany
• examining the importance of irrigation in the early Neolithic cultivation practices, and
• determining the effects of weaning on the isotopic composition of bones and teeth

Mass spectrometry for the ASIL projects are undertaken at the Leibniz Laboratory for Stable Isotope Analysis and IFM Geomar. Capabilities at the Leibniz Lab include an Isoprime for carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses, a Delta plus XL interfaced with a GasBench II equipped with a CTC Combi PAL autosampler for analysis of water (δ18O) and an elemental analyzer for analysis of bulk organic material (δ13C and δ15N, not under routine yet). Capabilities also include a Finnigan MAT 251 interfaced with the Kiel 1 prototype and a MAT 253 interfaced with a Kiel IV, both systems for carbonate analysis, a Delta E interfaced with a DICI system for analysis of total dissolved inorganic carbon in water samples. A MAT 253 connected with a gas chromatographer for compound-specific analysis (δ13C, δD) of individual organic compounds such as n-alkanes and amino acids is also housed in the Leibniz Lab. Measurements of 87Sr/86Sr takes place at IFM Geomar using a thermal ionization mass spectrometer (TIMS).

ASIL also has access to a microdrill system and microsample recovery system housed in the Leibniz Laboratory, and a micromill housed in IFM Geomar. ASIL works in close conjunction with the aDNA Laboratory and Zooarchaeology Laboratory to develop projects and multi-disciplinary approaches to understanding ancient human behavior.