You are what you eat (and drink)
The food you eat and the water you drink contain clues about your life. Chemical elements such as carbon, nitrogen, strontium oxygen and sulphur found within food and water leave chemical signatures. Called isotopes, these get stored within our living tissues, such as bones and teeth.
Carbon and nitrogen tells us about diet, including the amount of fish, meat and dairy produce and the types of plants eaten.
Strontium provides information about rock formations in any particular area, sulphur tells us about how close to the coast an individual was raised and oxygen reflects the climate of that area.
Once teeth have formed in childhood, their chemical signatures do not alter. To find out about where our crew were born, we took collagen and enamel from their teeth.
There was a Spanish surgeon recorded on board the Mary Rose in 1513, and that same year, gunners from Gdansk were transported on the Mary Rose to fight the Battle of Flodden. Also, the only known survivor of the sinking was a Fleming who provided eyewitness testament as to what happened on that day in 1545.
With no crew lists, we know only the names of the Captain, Vice Admiral Sir George Carew and an officer, Roger Grenville. Both died in the tragic sinking. A ‘Nye Coep’ may have been the cook – we have his name on several objects.
With so little written information on who the other crew members were, study of the 179 individuals excavated from the wreck of the Mary Rose, whose bones and teeth reveal secrets of how they lived, enable us to tell those missing stories.