Human culture and evolution has evolved over thousands of years, the majority of which occur in prehistory at times of limited or non-existent record keeping. Archaeology draws upon a range of techniques for studying prehistory where such written documents are lacking to form an understanding of how culture evolved, and which forces could have been responsible for shaping our society in the modern age.
Stable isotope analysis is a powerful tool in modern-day chemical archaeology, allowing archaeologists to reconstruct ancient diets through the analysis of preserved bone collagen with the aim of determining changes in land use, when and how farming or fishing practices were adopted, and environmental pressures which may have forced changes in such practices. Analysis of burial materials can help to elucidate practices of religious or spiritual significance, whilst the study of residues left behind in archaeological pottery can cast light on the uses of those vessels. The use of multiple isotopes can be utilized to determine geographical origins and migration patterns, ultimately enabling an understanding of the rich and vibrant history of humankind through the ages.