Stable and radiogenic isotope data from Brazilian bioarchaeological samples: a synthesis

by Borges C., Chanca I., Salesse K.
Keywords Carbon; Nitrogen; Oxygen; Strontium; Radiocarbon dating; Collagen; Bioapatite; Brazil
Created on 2021-05-05




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Three decades have passed since the first publication, in 1991, of stable isotope analysis in a Brazilian archaeological context. These data were used in a palaeodietary study and it is presented in the book entitled “Moundbuilders of the Amazon: Geophysical Archaeology on Marajo Island, Brazil” by A.C. Roosevelt. Although still mainly applied to palaeodietary research, stable isotope analysis in archaeology has been diversified in Brazil. In the last five years, an increasing number of studies has addressed various research questions, such as population mobility, social differentiation, health and children care, changes and resilience of cultural practices, identification of the origin of enslaved populations brought by force from the African continent, among others. However, research in this area is still incipient when compared to the large territory of the country (05˚ to -33˚N, -60˚ to -53˚E), the diversity of socio-cultural contexts of pre-colonial and indigenous societies, and to the country's historical formation process. Thus, the purpose of this compilation was to gather all dispersed, and often fragmented, data from analyses of stable and radioactive (focussing on radiocarbon) isotopes carried out in Brazilian archaeological contexts. We compiled data published from 1991 until the end of November 2021. The data included here contain information from 71 archaeological sites, 556 humans, 219 animals and 2 plants. Isotopic analyses were performed on 832 organic samples, mainly paired δ13C and δ15N plus δ34S measurements, and on 265 mineral samples, mainly δ13C, δ18O and 86Sr/87Sr measurements. Sr concentrations for 49 mineral samples were also compiled when reported. Samples have radiocarbon or relative dates showing a chronology between 18 kyr BP and nowadays. All data from this compilation are deposited in open-access on the IsoArcH platform ( To complete this compilation, 33 works were accessed using search tools in Brazilian and international digital repositories or through personal contacts, when manuscripts were only available in private libraries. Most of the data compiled here has not been released in peer-reviewed publications, as they comprise master dissertations, doctoral theses and research reports. A number of works included here are published only in local journals, in Portuguese, and comprise peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed scientific articles. The remaining source of information is found in peer-reviewed international journals. It is important to emphasize that most of the data compiled here might also be of difficult access for Brazilian researchers or Portuguese speakers. This extensive dataset aims to point up the gaps in stable isotopes and radiocarbon estimations provided for Brazilian archaeological contexts that could be further explored and provides easy access to numerous analyses that, otherwise, would be hard to obtain. Lastly, this compilation seeks to broaden interdisciplinary collaboration in Brazil and strengthen the international collaboration among scholars.

How to cite this dataset?

Borges, C., & Salesse, K. (2021). Stable and radiogenic isotope data from Brazilian bioarchaeological samples: a synthesis [Data set]. IsoArcH.

Publication(s) citing this dataset

Borges, C., Chanca, I., Salesse, K., 2022. Stable isotope data and radiocarbon dates from Brazilian bioarchaeological samples: An extensive compilation, Data in Brief 42, 108117