Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bone chemistry reveals royal lifestyle of Richard III

Date:
August 16, 2014
Source:
Elsevier
Summary:
A recent study has delved into the bone and tooth chemistry of King Richard III and uncovered fascinating new details about the life and diet of Britain's last Plantagenet king. The study indicates a change in diet and location in his early childhood, and in later life, a diet filled with expensive, high status food and drink.

Skull of King Richard III.
Credit: University of Leicester

A recent study by the British Geological Survey, in association with researchers at the University of Leicester, has delved into the bone and tooth chemistry of King Richard III and uncovered fascinating new details about the life and diet of Britain's last Plantagenet king.. The study, published in Elsevier's Journal of Archaeological Science indicates a change in diet and location in his early childhood, and in later life, a diet filled with expensive, high status food and drink.

Isotope analysis of bone and tooth material from King Richard III has revealed previously unknown details of his early life and the change in his diet when he became King two years and two months before he was killed at the Battle of Bosworth. The research examines the changes in chemistry found in the teeth, the femur and the rib; all of which develop and rebuild at different stages of life.

Isotope measurements that relate to geographical location, pollution and diet (strontium, nitrogen, oxygen, carbon and lead) were analysed in three locations on the skeleton of Richard III. The teeth, which form in childhood, confirmed that Richard had moved from Fotheringay castle in eastern England by the time he was seven. The data suggest that during this time he was in an area of higher rainfall, older rocks and with a changed diet relative to his place of birth in Northamptonshire. By examining the femur, which represents an average of the 15 years before death, researchers show that Richard moved back to eastern England as an adolescent or young adult, and had a diet that matched the highest aristocracy.

The third location, the rib, renews itself relatively quickly, so it only represents between 2 and 5 years of life before death. Data from the isotopes in this bone indicate the greatest change in diet. Although an alteration in the chemistry between the femur and the rib of Richard III could indicate relocation, historical records show that Richard did not move from the east of England in the 2 years prior to his death when he was King. As such, this chemical change is more likely to represent a change in diet relating to his period as King. The difference suggests an increase in consumption of freshwater fish and birds, which were popular additions to royal banquets at the time and included birds such as swan, crane, heron and egret. In addition, the bone chemistry suggests he was drinking more wine during his short reign as King and reinforces the idea that food and drink were strongly linked to social status in Medieval England.

Dr Angela Lamb, Isotope Geochemist and lead author of the paper says, "The chemistry of Richard III's teeth and bones reveal changes in his geographical movements, diet and social status throughout his life."

Richard Buckley from the University of Leicester Archaeological Services and lead archaeologist in the Richard III dig, said, "This cutting edge research has provided a unique opportunity to shed new light on the diet and environment of a major historical figure -Richard III. It is very rare indeed in archaeology to be able to identify a named individual with precise dates and a documented life. This has enabled the stable-isotope analysis to show how his environment changed at different times in his life and, perhaps most significantly, identified marked changes in his diet when he became king in 1483."

The Dig for Richard III was led by the University of Leicester, working with Leicester City Council and in association with the Richard III Society. The originator of the Search project was Philippa Langley of the Richard III Society.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Elsevier. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Angela L. Lamb, Jane E. Evans, Richard Buckley, Jo Appleby. Multi-isotope analysis demonstrates significant lifestyle changes in King Richard III. Journal of Archaeological Science, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2014.06.021

Cite This Page:

Elsevier. "Bone chemistry reveals royal lifestyle of Richard III." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140816204510.htm>.
Elsevier. (2014, August 16). Bone chemistry reveals royal lifestyle of Richard III. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140816204510.htm
Elsevier. "Bone chemistry reveals royal lifestyle of Richard III." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140816204510.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robotic Hair Restoration

Robotic Hair Restoration

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A new robotic procedure is changing the way we transplant hair. The ARTAS robot leaves no linear scarring and provides more natural results. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Insertable Cardiac Monitor

Insertable Cardiac Monitor

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A heart monitor the size of a paperclip that can save your life. The “Reveal Linq” allows a doctor to monitor patients with A-Fib on a continuous basis for up to 3 years! Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Attacking Superbugs

Attacking Superbugs

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) Two weapons hospitals can use to attack superbugs. Scientists in Ireland created a new gel resistant to superbugs, and a robot that can disinfect a room in minutes. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins