Social stratigraphy in Late Iron Age Switzerland: Stable carbon, nitrogen and sulphur isotope analysis of human remains from Münsingen

Moghaddam, Negahnaz; Müller, Felix; Hafner, Albert; Lösch, Sandra (2014). Social stratigraphy in Late Iron Age Switzerland: Stable carbon, nitrogen and sulphur isotope analysis of human remains from Münsingen. Archaeological and anthropological sciences, 8(1), pp. 149-160. Springer 10.1007/s12520-014-0221-4

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The Iron Age cemetery of Münsingen in Switzerland with 220 abundantly equipped burials marked a milestone for Iron Age research. The horizontal spread throughout the time of its occupancy laid the foundation for the chronology system of the Late Iron Age. Today, skulls of 77 individuals and some postcranial bones are still preserved. The aim of the study was to obtain information about diet, mobility and social stratification of the individuals. Stable isotope ratios of carbon, nitrogen and sulphur were analysed for 63 individuals. For all of them C3 plants were found to be the staple food. There are significant differences between males and females in δ13C and δ15N values. This points to a gender restriction in the access to animal protein with males probably having more access to meat and dairy products. Differences in δ15N values were also observed for different age classes. δ34S values indicate a terrestrial-based diet with no significant intake of marine or freshwater fish. Seven adults with enriched δ34S values might have immigrated to Münsingen, four of which were found in the oldest part of the cemetery. Furthermore, possible changes of the vegetation are indicated by the more positive stable carbon ratios in the later phases. The results lead to the suggestion that especially males buried with weapons might have played a special role in the Iron Age society.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine > Anthropology
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of Archaeological Sciences > Pre- and Early History

UniBE Contributor:

Hossein Moghaddam Horri, Negahnaz, Müller, Felix (C), Hafner, Albert, Lösch, Sandra


900 History > 930 History of ancient world (to ca. 499)








Albert Hafner-Lafitte

Date Deposited:

19 Dec 2014 08:32

Last Modified:

29 Mar 2023 23:34

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Iron Age, stable isotopes, diet, sex, age, grave goods




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