Tracing historical animal husbandry, meat trade, and food provisioning: A Multi-isotopic approach to the analysis of shipwreck faunal remains from the William Salthouse, Port Phillip, Australia
journal contributionposted on 31.07.2020, 11:42 by Eric J Guiry, M Staniforth, O Nehlicha, V Grimes, C Smith, B Harpley, S Noël, MP Richards
Salted meats were an important foodstuff throughout recent centuries, not only as a protein source during long distance voyages but also in New World colonies. They were often used in conjunction with locally husbanded animals in areas where it was possible to raise European livestock. Isotope analysis can potentially be used to determine the sources and relative contributions of imported vs. local meats. This paper explores the stable carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur isotope values of bone collagen from barreled salt pork and beef products (n=18) recovered from the wreck site of the William Salthouse, a British ship that sank in 1841 while undertaking the first ever attempt at trade between Canada and Australia. Results show a pronounced heterogeneity in animal life histories and highlight a need for a better understanding of variation in animal husbandry practices in major livestock production centers during the historical period.