Philippine Isoscapes: Creating An Isotopic Baseline Database for Palaeodietary and Mobility Reconstruction

Eleanor Marie S. Lim1 & Michelle Eusebio2

1Archaeological Studies Program, University of the Philippines Diliman, Philippines

2Science and Society Program, College of Science, University of the Philippines Diliman, Philippines

The application of stable isotope analysis has taken a dramatic surge in the past two decades to become one of the most utilized established techniques used in archaeological science to explore major themes in human history. Stable isotopes (i.e., C, N, O, H, S, Sr, and Pb) register dietary and environmental inputs in the tissues of plants and animals, which provide a means to directly investigate human diet and foodways, provenance, mobility, as well as transhumance. Stable isotopic approaches have continuously improved, advanced, and expanded over the decades to include high-resolution analyses of human, animal, and plant remains, which are significantly aiding us to better comprehend the nuances of the human past. However, this research is quite underestimated and has not been effusively utilized in Philippine archaeological research. This paper reviews the research history of isotopic studies in the country and highlights one of the immediate directions - the creation of a collaborative, isotopic database by curating available archaeological, biological, and geological samples from across the Philippines. This database will be placed in an open-access archive to motivate future isotopic research in the country, and to target investigative research into past diet, subsistence strategies, and environments, as well as trace mobility of past populations.