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Potential Freshwater Reservoir Effects in a Neolithic Shell Midden at Riņņkalns, Latvia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 February 2016

John Meadows
Affiliation:
Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology (ZBSA), Schleswig-Holstein State Museums Foundation Schloss Gottorf, Schlossinsel 1, 24837 Schleswig, Germany Leibniz-Labor für Altersbestimmung und Isotopenforschung, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Germany
Harald Lübke
Affiliation:
Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology (ZBSA), Schleswig-Holstein State Museums Foundation Schloss Gottorf, Schlossinsel 1, 24837 Schleswig, Germany
Ilga Zagorska
Affiliation:
Institute of Latvian History at the University of Latvia (LVI), Akademijas laukums 1, Riga LV-1050, Latvia
Valdis Berziņš
Affiliation:
Institute of Latvian History at the University of Latvia (LVI), Akademijas laukums 1, Riga LV-1050, Latvia
Aija Ceriņa
Affiliation:
Faculty of Geography and Earth Sciences, University of Latvia
Ilze Ozola
Affiliation:
Faculty of Geography and Earth Sciences, University of Latvia

Abstract

Riņņukalns is the only known prehistoric shell midden in the eastern Baltic, and is one of the few middens in northern Europe consisting mainly of freshwater mussel shells. Situated on the Salaca River at the outlet of Lake Burtnieks, in northeastern Latvia, the site was originally excavated in the 1870s, and reinvestigated several times over the following decades. A new excavation in 2011 showed that part of the midden remained intact. The new exposure, dated to the later 4th millennium cal BC, yielded rich fishbone and mollusk shell assemblages, herbivore, human and bird bones, and a wide range of artifacts typical of a subsistence economy based on fishing, hunting, and gathering. Human remains from burials excavated in the 1870s were also located in archives. The co-occurrence at Riņņukalns of human remains with a broad range of terrestrial and aquatic food remains provides an ideal setting to study freshwater reservoir effects and other isotopic signals of diet and mobility. The extent of 14C depletion in local freshwater resources is an essential parameter for such studies; on the basis of 14C ages of modern and paleoenvironmental samples, we estimate that the applicable reservoir age in Lake Burtnieks is in the order of 800–900 14C yr.

Type
Reservoir Effects
Copyright
Copyright © 2014 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona 

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