Estimation of Geographic Origin based on Elementary Analysis

Supported by Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B)

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science



What's "Estimation of Geographical Origin " ?

What's isotope ratio analysis ?

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How does stable isotope analysis tell us of a victim's geographic origine ?

What isotope is analized ?

Preceding study




Hidetoshi Someda


National Defense

Medical College



■ How does stable isotope analysis tell us of a victim’s geographic origin?

 Stable isotope ratios (hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, lead, and strontium) vary according to location and the climate, soils, and feeding habitats in each location. The ratios are reflected on the hard structures of the human body, such as the teeth and bones. Focusing on this variation, we intend to estimate geographic origin of samples by a reverse analysis of the stable isotope ratio.




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■ What isotope is analyzed?

 The following are examples of elements that could be used for stable isotope analysis:


・ Oxygen

    Oxygen can provide antemortem environmental data such as climate, latitude, and temperature to which the body had been exposed.


・ Strontium and Lead

    Ratios of strontium and lead might indicate unique characteristics of organisms that have lived near volcanoes.


・ Carbon and Nitrogen

   Carbon and nitrogen data could provide us valuable information about the dietary habits of an organism.

   As an example, Japanese people who lived a century ago hardly ate meat. Carbon and nitrogen data indicate whether human remains had lived in a modern age or during a time when meat dietary was rare, such as a hundred years ago.


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■ Preceding study

  In the United States Armed Forces, estimation of geographic origin based on stable isotope analysis results has been used to distinguish remains between US soldiers and local people in battlefields of previous war (following figure: Laura A. Regan, 2006).


  In Japan, stable isotope analysis has already been in use in many research studies to estimate ancient bionomics of humans and other organisms. Ishida and Yoneta, investigators of this research project, have written many research papers on the use of this method in the fields of archeology and anthropology. To apply this method in the present Japanese population, it is necessary to develop references of stable isotope ratios in human hard tissues from each area and assess them statistically.


   This research project will be conducted in cooperation with the US Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, Central Identification Laboratory (JPAC-CIL), for the development of common references of stable isotope ratios in uninvestigated areas worldwide.




The probability ellipse of the 95% confidence limits showed different distributions for each population.


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Hidetoshi Someda

Natinal Medical Defense College Japan


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