Abstract Long bones (mostly femurs) of 19 infants (0–14-months-old) from 8–6th century bc burials at Ficana, Italy, have been analysed for 10 major and minor elements, using particle induced X-ray and gamma-ray emission (PIXE and PIGE). Fe, Mn, Cu and Pb values were considered as being primarily the result of post-mortem conditions. Ca and Zn values may also be influenced by post-mortem conditions, but the methodological difficulties present in analysing infants might play some part in the results. Sr values most probably represented the pre-mortem conditions of the infants. Multivariate statistical techniques were used in the analysis of the results. The observed variations in strontium values may be due to social variations in the diets of infants and their mothers.