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Plant remains – such as leaves – is an important material in archaeological research. Feeding tree leaves was already common at the beginning of cattle breeding and used until the 20th century. Extensive forests allowed to harvest and dry leaves as valuable fodder, which was commonly used along with grass and hay until the Middle Ages.

Tree foliage, but also the leaves of ground-covering plants, such as herbs or grass are valuable comparative samples for strontium isotope analysis to address questions of past human and animal mobility. They contribute to characterizing the isotope composition of the biologically available strontium. An advantage of such samples is that they can be collected from sites that have been selected specifically with regard to their geological conditions as well as documented exactly by means of GPS. However, there is uncertainty regarding the influence of strontium of anthropogenic origin, because of which the isotope composition of modern samples may diverge from the isotope composition of the biologically available strontium in the past.

Sample properties

14C dating

The sample size should ideally be around 20-30 mg. Please contact the laboratory if the sample size is considerably smaller.

Comparative samples for strontium isotope analysis

Comparative samples for strontium isotope analysis should comprise approximately the amount of an A5-sized bag per sampling location, washed with distilled water if necessary and dried. Plants shall be submitted along with species information (one species per sample), geographical coordinates recorded by means of GPS and information on the geological conditions at the sampling location, which may be selected specifically to represent a certain geological unit.