Migration and Diet in Turkey

This project investigates the diet and mobility of Roman and Byzantine populations at monumental sites in southwestern Turkey. The Roman and Byzantine periods in Turkey (ca. 133 BC – ca. 1453AD) are characterized by substantial societal change, including the end of the Roman Empire and the spread of Christianity. In southwestern Turkey, two World Heritage sites, Hierapolis and Ephesos (pictured above) were major centres during both of these periods. Specifically, we use stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of human bone and tooth samples from associated cemeteries to examine temporal change or continuity in the life histories of people buried at these sites, and to explore variations in diet due to differences in both sex and social status. Strontium isotope analysis is used to identify non-local individuals who, in the later period, may have been pilgrims.

For more information about this project please contact Megan Wong (megan _wong@sfu.ca).


Wong, M., Grimes, V., Steskal, M., Song, J., Ng, J., Jaouen, K., Lam, V.C. and Richards, M.,    2021 A bioavailable baseline strontium isotope map of southwestern Turkey for mobility studies. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports37, p.102922.

Wong, M., Brandt, J. R., Ahrens, S., Jaouen, K., Bjørnstad, G., Nauman E., Wenn, C.C., Laforest, C., Hagelberg E., Lam, V. C. and Richards, M.    2018 Pursuing pilgrims: Isotopic investigations of Roman and Byzantine mobility at Hierapolis, Turkey. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports17, 520-528.

Wong, Megan, Elise Nauman, Klervia Jaouen, and Michael Richards.    2017  Isotopic investigations of human diet and mobility at the site of Hierapolis, Turkey.  In Life and death in Asia Minor in Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine times. Studies in Archaeology and Bioarchaeology, edited by J.R Brandt, Hagelberg E., Bjornstad G, and S. Ahrens, pp. 228–236. Oxbow Books, Oxford.

Bortheim, K., Cappelletto E., Hill D., Kiesewetter H., Russ H., Selsvold I., Cecili Wenn C., Wong M.    2013 Hierapolis 2013: Revisiting old finds and procuring some new ones. Nicolay 123: 78-85.


Dr. Michael Richards is an archaeological scientist who applies methods such as isotopic analysis to determine past human and animal diets and adaptations. His current research includes developing new isotope systems for dietary and migration studies, using isotope analysis to explore and catalogue the range and nature of human dietary adaptations throughout the Holocene, and developing and applying isotope analysis in forensics

Megan Wong is a PhD Candidate and staff member in the Department of Archaeology. Megan first began research in Turkey in 2013 and this project is the focus of her PhD research. 

Dr. Martin Steskal is a Research Group Leader (Historical Archaeology in the Mediterranean) at the Austrian Acadamy of Sciences. Dr. Steskal is the head of the Ephesos excavation and has conducted research at this site since 1999. For more information on Dr. Steskal and his research, please see his information page

Dr. Johann Rasmus Brandt is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History at the Univeristy of Oslo. For more information on Dr. Brandt and his research, please see his information page

Dr. Vaughan Grimes is a Professor at Memorial University in the Department of Archaeology. Dr. Grimes' research focuses on archaeological science, biomolecular archaeology and human skeletal biology. For more information on Dr. Grimes and his research, please see his information page.

Dr. Klervia Jaouen is a researcher at Géosciences Environment Toulous – Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées. Dr. Jaouen's research focuses on the development of new isotopic tools for archaeological investigations. For more information on Dr. Jaeouen and her research, please see her information page