Stable Isotope Analyses of Late Neolithic Human Remains from Switzerland

Siebke, Inga; Lösch, Sandra (5 September 2019). Stable Isotope Analyses of Late Neolithic Human Remains from Switzerland (Unpublished). In: Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists. Bern. 4.9.2019-7.9.2019.

Stable isotope studies of human remains from the Late Neolithic of modern Switzerland are currently absent from data sets of Central Europe. This changed with the discovery of the Dolmen from Oberbipp, which forms the basis of a project to reconstruct nutrition and mobility during the Late Neolithic using stable isotopes (13C/12C, 15N/14N, and 34S/32S) as well as occupation time, kinship and populationgenetics. This paper is aimed to evaluate diet with regard to sex, geographical regions, and chronological phases. In total, 114 human skeletons from 20 different sites (Switzerland, France, and Germany) were sampled. All samples were radiocarbon dated and date from the Middle Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age. In addition, 67 contemporary faunal remains were sampled. Collagen was extracted and its quality was assessed. All faunal remains and 91 human samples from 14 sites provided sufficient collagen quality for subsequent statistical analyses. The data show expected trophic levels for δ13C and δ15N. The human samples show little variation for δ13C between sites, while δ15N and δ34S show greater variability. No differences between the sexes regarding all three elements are observed. However, little distinction between the chronological phases are recorded. The small variability for δ34S across the animals is indicative for a local signal and therefore suitable as baseline for the human samples. The δ13C values indicate a C3 plant based diet across all sites, which is consistence with other contemporary sites from Central Europe. The variability of δ15N seems to be related to the site rather than being indicative for the social status. The sulphur values do not support the hypothesis of either patrilocal or matrilocal societies. However, the females have a larger distribution than the males, which could be an indication towards higher female migration.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine > Anthropology

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (GCB)

UniBE Contributor:

Siebke, Inga and Lösch, Sandra


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
900 History > 930 History of ancient world (to ca. 499)


[42] Schweizerischer Nationalfonds




Sandra Lösch

Date Deposited:

17 Sep 2019 10:08

Last Modified:

17 Sep 2019 10:08


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