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Paleodieta osób pochowanych w grobach szkieletowych z późnej epoki brązu – wybrane przykłady / Paleodiet of individuals buried in inhumation graves at the Late Bronze Age cemetery – selected cases

DOI: 10.33547/ODA-SAH.11.Gog.09

Paleodieta osób pochowanych w grobach szkieletowych z późnej epoki brązu – wybrane przykłady / Paleodiet of individuals buried in inhumation graves at the Late Bronze Age cemetery – selected cases

by Anita Szczepanek 1, Paweł Jarosz 1

1 – Instytut Archeologii i Etnologii PAN, Ośrodek Archeologii Gór i Wyżyn, ul. Sławkowska 17, 31-016 Kraków

In:  E. Tomczak, A. Szczepanek, P. Jarosz 2021. Gogolin-Strzebniów, stanowisko 12. Cmentarzysko kultury łużyckiej na Wyżynie Śląskiej, Ocalone Dziedzictwo Archeologiczne 11, Pękowice: Stowarzyszenie Archeologów Terenowych „Stater”, Wydawnictwo Profil-Archeo, p. 119-123.

Summary: The popularisation of carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) stable isotopes  analyses resulted in including these studies to the basic canon allowing for life strategies reconstruction in prehistoric communities. Combined with effects of archaeological investigations, the results make it possible to verify hypotheses concerning bases of the economy and environmental resources utilised by a given group. Results of isotope analyses should be referred to the local environmental conditions available for inhabitants occupying the investigated area. The comparative background for the analysed group were animal bones found in grave 17. An important information provided by analyses of stable carbon isotopes is the ability to distinguish C3 and C4 plants. Typical for the temperate climate, C3 plants discriminate the 13C isotope, which means that their δ13C values are lower than those of C4 plants, and range from -35‰ to -20‰. In C4 plants, growing mainly in hot climates, the values of δ13C typically range from -14‰ to -9‰. C3 plants include, among others rice, wheat and rye, most fruits, legumes, vegetables, including sugar beets, trees, forest and mountain grasses, while C4 plants are mainly millet, sorghum, corn, sugarcane and tropical grasses. The level of δ15N provides information about the trophic position of a given organism in the local ecosystem, but attention should also be paid to the local variability of nitrogen values depending on climatic conditions, such as low rainfall or distance from the sea shoreline, causing an increase in nitrogen values. δ15N also enables us to distinguish between marine and terrestrial diets, because in marine ecosystems nitrogen values are higher by approximately 10‰. Nitrogen isotopes also provide information related to physiological processes, including changes in the child’s diet at weaning or nutritional stress due to disease or hunger. For the analysis of stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes, three samples were taken: two from human bones and one from an animal bone. The values of δ13C measured in human remains were similar and range from -14.3‰ to -14‰, and δ15N from 7.8‰ to 8.1‰. For animal bones, these values were much lower, with δ13C at -20.9‰, and δ15N at 5.8‰. The obtained data clearly indicate a significant share of millet (C4 plant) in the diet of the people buried at the cemetery in Gogolin. For the Lusatian culture communities, the consumption of millet has been determined in isotopic studies of other necropolies, such as Kraków-Wyciąże, site 5, but δ13C values obtained for individuals buried there were lower and ranged from -17.8‰ to -17.6‰. The presence of millet in the materials of the Lusatian culture has also been directly confirmed by preserved plant remains and grain imprints on clay vessels. The fact that the δ15N values acquired for humans were only slightly higher than the value obtained for the analysed cattle bone proves that the diet of the Gogolin population was based mainly on plant products and was supplemented with animal protein only to a small degree. Such a composition of the consumed food is typical of a settled population with a dominance of land cultivation in subsistent strategy, and at the same time reflects the type of economy postulated for the Lusatian culture communities. Consequently, the diet of the individuals buried at the cemetery in Gogolin clearly differs from the diet of a mobile, pastoral community.