Crops vs. animals: regional differences in subsistence strategies of Swiss Neolithic farmers revealed by stable isotopes

Siebke, Inga; Furtwängler, Anja; Steuri, Noah; Hafner, Albert; Ramstein, Marianne; Krause, Johannes; Lösch, Sandra (2020). Crops vs. animals: regional differences in subsistence strategies of Swiss Neolithic farmers revealed by stable isotopes. Archaeological and anthropological sciences, 12(10) Springer 10.1007/s12520-020-01122-1

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The Neolithic period is archaeologically well documented in Central Europe, and several studies considered dietary habits and migration patterns. However, even though Switzerland and the alpine region are well known for Neolithic cultures, most of today’s knowledge about the population comes from organic materials such as wood, faunal, or botanic remains and not from the human remains themselves. This comprehensive study presents dietary reconstructions from stable isotope data (δ13C, δ15N, δ34S) of humans (n = 88) and fauna (n = 60) dating to the Neolithic from 21 sites that cluster in three main Swiss regions (Jura, Midland, Eastern Switzerland). The general data show a terrestrial C3 plant–based diet, and the δ15N values indicate regional differences between the groups, while males and females consumed similar proportions of animal proteins. It is assumed that freshwater fish was part of the diet at least in some regions. The data indicate that different subsistence strategies were practiced (animal husbandry/pastoralism vs. agriculture) possibly in relation to cultural influences. The δ34S values suggest some mobility in general, while indications for patrilocal societies are seen as females exhibit greater δ34S ranges. Overall, we conclude that most likely different subsistence strategies were practised, while no social stratigraphy based on nutritional access could be observed for the studied populations.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of Archaeological Sciences > Pre- and Early History
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 Katharina Elisabeth; Steuri, Noah; Hafner, Albert and Lösch, Sandra

Subjects:

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

ISSN:

1866-9557

Publisher:

Springer

Funders:

[42] Schweizerischer Nationalfonds

Language:

English

Submitter:

Sandra Lösch

Date Deposited:

30 Dec 2020 08:35

Last Modified:

10 Feb 2021 10:02

Publisher DOI:

10.1007/s12520-020-01122-1

Additional Information:

Published online: 15 September 2020, Article number: 235

BORIS DOI:

10.48350/146584

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/146584

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