The Beaker People Project is a major interdisciplinary five-year research programme, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and led by one of the authors (Mike Parker Pearson of Sheffield University). It aims to investigate patterns of diet, mobility and health in British Beaker-associated skeletons (and in contemporaneous non-Beaker associated skeletons) to help address long-standing issues of identity, such as: are the people who were buried with Beaker pottery any different from their contemporaries who were not? Are possible immigrants identifiable, as was the case with the Amesbury Archer? The Project will investigate 250 sets of remains, from five geochemically-contrasting areas – namely eastern Scotland, Yorkshire, the Peak District, Wessex and Wales – using osteology, dental microwear, histology and pathology, and isotopic analysis of tooth enamel and bone (with carbon and nitrogen in bone providing information about diet, strontium and oxygen in tooth enamel providing information about mobility, and sulphur in bone providing information about coastal vs. non-coastal residence). A subset of the 250 individuals is to be radiocarbon-dated, to improve our understanding of Beaker chronology.
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