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A Freshwater Diet-Derived 14C Reservoir Effect at the Stone Age Sites in the Iron Gates Gorge

  • G T Cook (a1), C Bonsall (a2), R E M Hedges (a3), K McSweeney (a2), V Boronean (a4) and P B Pettitt (a3)...

Abstract

Human bones from single inhumation burials and artifacts made from terrestrial mammal (ungulate) bone found in direct association with the skeletons were obtained from the Stone Age site of Schela Cladovei situated just below the Iron Gates Gorge of the River Danube. The results of stable isotope analyses of the human bone collagen are consistent with a heavy dependence on aquatic protein while radiocarbon dating of the samples reveals an offset of 300–500 years between the two sample types, indicating a freshwater reservoir effect in the human bone samples. Since protein consumption is by far the major source of nitrogen in the human diet we have assumed a linear relationship between δ15N and the level of aquatic protein in each individual's diet and derived a calibration for 14C age offset versus δ15N which has been applied to a series of results from the site at Lepenski Vir within the gorge. The corrected 14C ages (7310-6720 BP) are now consistent with the previous 14C age measurements made on charcoal from related contexts (7360–6560 BP). In addition, the data indicate a change from a primarily aquatic to a mixed terrestrial/aquatic diet around 7100 BP and this may be argued as supporting a shift from Mesolithic to Neolithic. This study also has wider implications for the accurate dating of human bone samples when the possibility exists of an aquatic component in the dietary protein and strongly implies that δ15N analysis should be undertaken routinely when dating human bones.

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References

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A Freshwater Diet-Derived 14C Reservoir Effect at the Stone Age Sites in the Iron Gates Gorge

  • G T Cook (a1), C Bonsall (a2), R E M Hedges (a3), K McSweeney (a2), V Boronean (a4) and P B Pettitt (a3)...

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