Two months in and I’ve been busy with both strands of the project: planning fieldwork to collect modern millet grains in Senegal that will take place very soon in October and selecting archaeological millet and animal bones from the sites in Burkina Faso.
Veerle Linseele, KU Leuven, visited a couple of weeks ago to help me select animal bones for carbon and nitrogen isotopic analysis. Veerle did her PhD on the faunal material so it is fantastic to be able to work with her. We chose cattle, sheep, goat and gazelle bones from four archaeological sites in Burkina Faso.
The aim is to distinguish different diets/husbandry patterns between the large and small domestic livestock and compare the isotope values of domestic herbivores with those of the wild gazelles. The δ15N values of the herbivore bones will also provide a good isotopic baseline with which to compare the archaeological millet δ15N values.
Over the past few weeks I have been cleaning the bones in preparation for collagen extraction and possibly measuring their %N to test whether they are well-preserved and likely to contain collagen. So far, quite a few of the bones I’ve cleaned give off that distinctive collagen smell, so I’m quietly confident that they will yield well-preserved collagen!