Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

HUMAN DIETARY COMPLEXITY IN TIANSHAN REGION AND THE INFLUENCE OF CLIMATE ON HUMAN PALEODIET

  • Haiyan Zhao (a1) (a2) (a3), Weijian Zhou (a1) (a2) (a4), Hua Du (a1) (a2), Peng Cheng (a1) (a2), Peter Weiming Jia (a5) and Wei Gong (a1) (a2)...

Abstract

With the popularization of carbon and nitrogen stable-isotope analysis methods used on archaeological samples from Xinjiang, the ancient paleodiet there has been revealed. However, research about isotopic analysis combined with environmental factors is rare, especially in such a variable and complex climate as that of the Tianshan region. We systematically analyzed the δ13C and δ15N results from animals and humans for dietary reconstruction of nomadic pastoralists from the Tianshan region during 3900–1200 cal BP. The δ13C and δ15N values for animals (sheep/goat, horse and cattle; n = 57) have a wide range from –20.8‰ to –14.7‰ for δ13C (–19.2 ± 1.0‰) and 3.2‰ to 9.9‰ for δ15N (7.0 ± 1.2‰). The δ13C and δ15N values from humans range from –19.6 to –12.3‰ (–16.0 ± 1.5‰) and 7.1 to 16.7‰ (–13.6 ± 1.5‰), respectively. The animal δ15N results indicate that the dry environment in the Tianshan region may result in elevated δ15N values. Synthesizing animal and human isotope results suggests that the inhabitants engaged in mobile herding economies subsidized with crops and wild animal meat from the Tianshan Mountains. In conclusion, we found that the regional environment closely relates to crop types, and temporal climate change has an effect on human dietary structure. Therefore, climate condition cannot be ignored when studying human paleodiet.

Copyright

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Email: weijian@loess.llqg.ac.cn

References

Hide All
Ambrose, SH. 1991. Effects of diet, climate and physiology on nitrogen isotope abundances in terrestrial foodwebs. Journal of Archaeological Science 18:293317.
Ambrose, SH. 1993. Isotopic analysis of paleodiet: Methodological and interpretive considerations. Investigations of ancient human tissue. Chemical Analysis in Anthropology 59130.
An, CB, Tang, L, Barton, L, Chen, F-H. 2005a. Climate change and cultural response around 4000 cal yr B.P. in the western part of Chinese loess plateau. Quaternary Research 63:347352.
An, CB, Dong, W, Chen, Y, Li, H, Shi, C, Wang, W, Zhang, P, Zhao, X. 2015. Stable isotopic investigations of modern and charred foxtail millet and the implications for environmental archaeological reconstruction in the western Chinese loess plateau. Quaternary Research 84(1):144149.
An, ZS, Yongsong, H, Weiguo, L, Zhengtang, G, Clemens, S, Li, L, Prell, W, Youfeng, N, Yanjun, C, Weijian, Z. 2005b. Multiple expansions of C4 plant biomass in East Asia since 7 ma coupled with strengthened monsoon circulation. Geology 33(9):705708.
Aranibar, JN, Otter, L, Macko, SA, Feral, CJ, Epstein, HE, Dowty, PR, Eckardt, F, Shugart, HH, Swap, RJ. 2004. Nitrogen cycling in the soil–plant system along a precipitation gradient in the Kalahari sands. Global Change Biology 10:359373.
Bird, MI, Pousai, P. 1997. Variations of δ13C in the surface soil organic carbon pool. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 11(3):313322.
Bocherens, H, Drucker, D. 2003. Trophic level isotopic enrichment of carbon and nitrogen in bone collagen: Case studies from recent and ancient terrestrial ecosystems. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 13(1–2):4653.
Bronk Ramsey, C. 1995. Radiocarbon calibration and analysis of stratigraphy: The OxCal program. Radiocarbon 37:425430.
Bronk Ramsey, C. 2001. Development of the radiocarbon calibration program. Radiocarbon 43(2A):355363.
Cheng, H, Spötl, C, Breitenbach, SF, Sinha, A, Wassenburg, JA, Jochum, KP, Scholz, D, Li, X, Yi, L, Peng, Y. 2016. Climate variations of central asia on orbital to millennial timescales. Scientific Reports 6:36975.
Cullen, H, Hemming, S, Hemming, G. 2000. Climate change and the collapse of the Akkadian empire: Evidence from the deep sea. Geology 28(4):379.
Cultural Relics Office, Culture Department, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Special Training Class for Cultural Relis and Museum Personal, History department, Xinjiang University. 1989. The Yanbulake cemetery in Hami, Xinjiang. Acta Archaeologica Sinica 3:325362.
Dalfes, HN, Kukla, G, Weiss, H. 1997. Third millennium BC climate change and Old World collapse: Nile floods and political disorder in Early Egypt. Chapter 1. p. 1–23.
Dalfes, HN, Kukla, G, Weiss, H, editors. 2013. Third millennium BC climate change and Old World collapse. Springer Science & Business Media.
Demenocal, PB. 2001. Cultural responses to climate change during the Late Holocene. Science 292.
DeNiro, MJ, Epstein, S. 1981. Influence of diet on the distribution of nitrogen isotopes in animals. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 45:341351.
Di Lernia, S, Tafuri, MA, Gallinaro, M, Alhaique, F, Balasse, M, Cavorsi, L, Fullagar, PD, Mercuri, AM, Monaco, A, Perego, A. 2013. Inside the “African cattle complex”: Animal burials in the Holocene central Sahara. PLOSone 8:e56879.
Dong, Y, Morgan, C, Chinenov, Y, Zhou, L, Fan, W, Ma, X, Pechenkina, K. 2017. Shifting diets and the rise of male-biased inequality on the central plains of china during eastern zhou. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114(5):932.
Drysdale, R, Zanchetta, G, Hellstrom, J, Maas, R, Fallick, A, Pickett, M, Cartwright, I, Piccini, L. 2006. Late holocene drought responsible for the collapse of old world civilizations is recorded in an italian cave flowstone. Geology 34:101104.
Farquhar, GD, Ehleringer, JR, Hubick, KT. 1989. Carbon isotope discrimination and photosynthesis. Annual Review of Plant Biology 40(1):503537.
Gannes, LZ, Del Rio, CM, Koch, P. 1998. Natural abundance variations in stable isotopes and their potential uses in animal physiological ecology. Comparative biochemistry and physiology Part A: Molecular & integrative physiology 119:725737.
Grosjean, M, Núñez, AL.1994. Lateglacial, early and middle holocene environments, human occupation, and resource use in the Atacama (northern Chile). Geoarchaeology 9:271286.
Guedes, JdA, Lu, H, Li, Y, Spengler, RN, Wu, X, Aldenderfer, MS. 2014. Moving agriculture onto the tibetan plateau: The archaeobotanical evidence. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 6:255269.
Hartman, G. 2011. Are elevated δ15N values in herbivores in hot and arid environments caused by diet or animal physiology? Functional Ecology 25(1):122131.
Hassan, F A. 1997. Nile floods and political disorder in early Egypt[M]//Third millennium BC climate change and old world collapse. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. p. 123.
Hedges, REM. 2003. On bone collagen—apatite-carbonate isotopic relationships. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 13(1–2):6679.
Janzen, A. 2015. Mobility and herd management strategies of early pastoralists in south-central Kenya, 3000–1200 bp. UC Santa Cruz.
Jiang, H. 2006. The plant remains of the Yanghai tombs (2500 yrs B. P.), and their relationship to the ancient Yanghai people and environment. Beijing: The Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Jiang, H, Li, X, Li, C. 2007. Cereal remains from Yanghai Tomb in Turpan, Xinjiang and their palaeoenvironmental significance. Journal of Palaeogeography 9(5):551558.
Katzenberg, MA. 2008. Stable isotope analysis: A tool for studying past diet, demography, and life history. In: Katzenberg, MA, Saunders, SR, editors. Biological anthropology of the human skeleton. p. 411441.
Kohn, MJ. 1999. You are what you eat. Science 283(5400):335336.
Kulp, K, Ponte, J. Jr 2000. Handbook of cereal science and technology food science and technology. New York: Marcel Dekker.
Lee-Thorp, JA. 2008. On isotopes and old bones*. Archaeometry 50:925950.
Li, F, Li, S, Shui, T. 1993. Ancient culture and paleoclimate of Hulu river basin. Archaeology (9):822842.
Li, S. 2009. West learning from east. The process of prehistoric culture in northwest China.
Ling, X, Chen, X, Wang, J, Chen, L, Ma, J, Ren, M, Xi, T. 2013. Carbon and nitrogen isotopic analysis of human bones excavated from the Dongheigou site, Balikun county, Xinjiang Autonomous Region. Acta Anthropologica Sinica 32:219225.
Ling, X, Lan, D, Chen, X, Ma, J, Wang, J, You, Y. 2016. Carbon and nitrogen isotopic analysis on animal bones excavated from Dongheigou site in Barkol county, Xinjiang Automous Region. Archaeology of the Western Region.
Liu, WG, Wang, ZH. 2008. Nitrogen isotopic composition of plant-soil in the loess plateau and its responding to environmental change. Chinese Science Bulletin 53:29172924.
Liu, X, Guan, B. 2002. The important harvest of prehistoric archaeology in Yili valley of Xinjiang. The Western Regions Studies 4:106108.
Liu, X, Lightfoot, E, O’Connell, TC, Wang, H, Li, S, Zhou, L, Hu, Y, Motuzaitematuzeviciute, G, Jones, MK. 2014. From necessity to choice: Dietary revolutions in west China in the second millennium BC. World Archaeology 46(5):661680.
Lu, H, Zhang, J, Liu, K-B, Wu, N, Li, Y, Zhou, K, Ye, M, Zhang, T, Zhang, H, Yang, X. 2009. Earliest domestication of common millet (panicum miliaceum) in East Asia extended to 10,000 years ago. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106(18):73677372.
Ma, M, Dong, G, Jia, X, Wang, H, Cui, Y, Chen, F. 2016. Dietary shift after 3600 calyr bp and its influencing factors in northwestern china: Evidence from stable isotopes. Quaternary Science Reviews 145:5770.
Marcott, SA, Shakun, JD, Clark, PU, Mix, AC. 2013. A reconstruction of regional and global temperature for the past 11,300 years. Science 339(6124):11981201.
Newton, AC, Flavell, AJ, George, TS, Leat, P, Mullholland, B, Ramsay, L, Revoredo-Giha, C, Russell, J, Steffenson, BJ, Swanston, JS. 2011. Crops that feed the world 4. Barley: A resilient crop? Strengths and weaknesses in the context of food security. Food Security 3:141.
O’Connell, TC, Kneale, CJ, Tasevska, N, Kuhnle, GG. 2012. The diet–body offset in human nitrogen isotopic values: A controlled dietary study. American journal of physical anthropology 149(3):426434.
Outram, AK, Kasparov, A, Stear, NA, Varfolomeev, V, Usmanova, E, Evershed, RP. 2012. Patterns of pastoralism in later Bronze Age Kazakhstan: New evidence from faunal and lipid residue analyses. Journal of Archaeological Science 39(7):24242435.
Pearson, JA, Buitenhuis, H, Hedges, REM, Martin, L, Russell, N, Twiss, KC. 2007. New light on early caprine herding strategies from isotope analysis: A case study from Neolithic Anatolia. Journal of Archaeological Science 34(12):21702179.
Peel, MC, Finlayson, BL, McMahon, TA. 2007. Updated world map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci. 11(5):16331644.
Possehl, GL. 1997. Climate and the eclipse of the ancient cities of the indus. Third millennium bc climate change and old world collapse. Springer. p. 193–243.
Reimer, PJ, Bard, E, Bayliss, A, Beck, JW, Blackwell, PG, Ramsey, CB, Buck, CE, Cheng, H, Edwards, RL, Friedrich, M. 2013. IntCal13 and Marine13 radiocarbon age calibration curves 0–50,000 years cal BP. Radiocarbon 55:18691887.
Riehl, S, Zeidi, M, Conard, NJ. 2013. Emergence of agriculture in the foothills of the Zagros mountains of Iran. Science 341(6141):6567.
Ren, M. 2008. Konwing the Xionnu Culture in the Eastern Tianshan Mountain from Tomb Heigouliang and Dongheigou site at the beginning of XiHan Dynasty [dissertation]. Northwest University.
Robinson, D, Handley, LL, Scrimgeour, CM, Gordon, DC, Forster, BP, Ellis, RP. 2000. Using stable isotope natural abundances (δ15N and δ13C) to integrate the stress responses of wild barley (hordeum spontaneum c. Koch) genotypes. Journal of Experimental Botany 51(342):41.
Sandweiss, DH. 1999. Climate and culture: Transitions in the mid-Holocene. Science 283(5401):499500.
Shao, K, Zhang, J, Cong, D, Jia Peter, Cui AN, Wu, N. 2019. Analysis of plant microfossils reveals the ancient survival strategy of the Adunqiaolu site in Xinjiang, China. Quaternary Sciences 39(1):3747.
Si, Y, Lv, EN, Li, X, Jiang, H, Hu, Y, Wang, CH. 2013. Exploration of human diets and populations from the Yanghai tombs, Xinjiang. Chinese Science Bulletin 58(15): 14221429.
Snyder, RL, de Melo-Abreu, JP. 2005. Frost protection: Fundamentals, practice and economics. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Stanley, DJ, Chen, Z, Song, J. 1999. Inundation, sea-level rise and transition from Neolithic to Bronze Age cultures, Yangtze delta, China. Geoarchaeology: An International Journal 14(1):1526.
Swap, RJ, Aranibar, JN, Dowty, PR, Gilhooly, WP, Macko, SA. 2010. Natural abundance of 13C and 15N in C3 and C4 vegetation of southern africa: Patterns and implications. Global Change Biology 10:350358.
Tang, H, Shurun, Liu, Xinshi, Zhang. 1999. The C4 plants in inner Mongolia and their eco geographical characteristics. Acta Botanica Sinica 41:420424.
Tao, SC, An, CB, Chen, FH, Tang, LY, Wang, ZL, , YB, Li, ZF, Zheng, TM, Zhao, JJ. 2010. Pollen-inferred vegetation and environmental changes since 16.7 ka bp at Balikun Lake, Xinjiang. Chinese Science Bulletin 55(22):24492457.
Tian, D. 2018. Archaeobotanical study on the region of East Tianshan Mountains in first millennium BC: Shirenzigou-centric perspective. Northwest University.
Tian, D, Jian, M, Wang, J, Pilgram, T, Zhao, Z, Liu, X. 2017a. Cultivation of naked barley by early Iron Age agro-pastoralists in Xinjiang, China. Environmental Archaeology 23(5):110.
Tian, D, Ma, J, Wang, J, Pilgram, T, Zhao, Z, Liu, X. 2017b. Cultivation of naked barley by early Iron Age agro-pastoralists in Xinjiang, China. Environmental Archaeology 23:416425.
Tieszen, LL. 1991. Natural variations in the carbon isotope values of plants: Implications for archaeology, ecology, and paleoecology. Journal of Archaeological Science 18(3):227248.
Wang, T, Wei, D, Chang, X, Yu, Z, Zhang, X, Wang, C, Hu, Y, Fuller, BT. 2017. Tianshanbeilu and the isotopic millet road: Reviewing the late Neolithic/Bronze Age radiation of human millet consumption from north China to Europe. National Science Review 6(5):10241039.
Wang, TT, Fuller, BT, Wei, D, Chang, XE, Hu, YW. 2015. Investigating dietary patterns with stable isotope ratios of collagen and starch grain analysis of dental calculus at the Iron Age cemetery site of Heigouliang, Xinjiang, China. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 26:693704.
Wang, W, Wang, Y, An, C, Ruan, Q, Duan, F, Li, W, Dong, W. 2018. Human diet and subsistence strategies from the late Bronze Age to historic times at Goukou, Xinjiang, northwest China. The Holocene 28:640650.
Weiss, H. 2000. Beyond the Younger Dryas, collapse as adaptation to abrupt climate change in ancient West Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean. Environmental Disaster and the Archaeology of Human Response. Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, Anthropological Papers 7:7598.
Weiss, H, Courty, MA, Wetterstrom, W, Guichard, F, Senior, L, Meadow, R, Curnow, A. 1993. The genesis and collapse of third millennium North Mesopotamian civilization. Science 261(5124):995.
Wu, W, Liu, T. 2004. Possible role of the “Holocene Event 3” on the collapse of Neolithic cultures around the central plain of China. Quaternary International 117(1):153166.
Xie, SH, Hu, CH, Gu, Y, Huang, X, Zhu, Z, Huang, J. 2015. Paleohydrological variation since 13ka BP in Middle Yangtze region. Earth Sciences—Journal of China University of Geosciences 40:198205.
Yang, R, Yang, Y, Li, W, Abuduresule, Y, Hu, X, Wang, C, Jiang, H. 2014a. Investigation of cereal remains at the Xiaohe cemetery in Xinjiang, China. Journal of Archaeological Science 49(1):4247.
Yang, Y, Shevchenko, A, Knaust, A, Abuduresule, I, Wenying, L, Xingjun, H, Wang, C. 2014b. Proteomics evidence for kefir dairy in Early Bronze Age China. Journal of Archaeological Science 45(1):178186.
Yin, G, Li, L, Meng, X, Wang, L, Liu, Y. 2017. A research of precipitation trend and fluctuation in Xinjiang from 1979 to 2013. Journal of North China University of Water Resources and Electric Power (Natural Science Edition) 38(5):1927.
Yu, J. 2018. New archaeological discoveries were made at Tongtian Cave site in Jimunai county, Xinjiang from 2016 to 2017. The Western Regions Studies 109(1):132135.
Yu, S, Zhu, C, Song, J, Qu, W. 2000. Role of climate in the rise and fall of neolithic cultures on the Yangtze delta. Boreas 29:157165.
Zeder, MA. 2008. Domestication and early agriculture in the Mediterranean basin: Origins, diffusion, and impact. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105(33):1159711604.
Zhang, CH. 1997. A brief analysis of Hami’s agricultural production in the Bronze Age. Agricultural Archaeology 3:4144.
Zhang, DD, Lee, HF, Cong, W, Baosheng, L, Qing, P, Jane, Z, Yulun, A. 2011. The causality analysis of climate change and large-scale human crisis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108(42):1729617301.
Zhang, G, Wang, S, Ferguson, DK, Yang, Y, Liu, X, Jiang, H. 2017. Ancient plant use and palaeoenvironmental analysis at the Gumugou cemetery, Xinjiang, China: Implication from desiccated plant remains. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 9:145152.
Zhang, Q, Li, S. 2006. Analysis of food structure of ancient inhabitants in No.1 cemetery of Qiongkeke at Nilka county, Xinjiang. The Western Regions Studies 4:7881.
Zhang, Q, Chang, X, Liu, G. 2009. Stable isotopic analysis on human bones from Heigouliang cemetery in Barkol, Xinjiang. The Western Regions Studies 3:4549.
Zhang, Q, Chang, X, Liu, G. 2010. Stable isotopic analysis of human bones unearthed from Tianshanbeilu cemetery in Hami, Xinjiang. The Western Regions Studies 2:3843.
Zhang, X, Chou, SH, Zhang, J, Guo, W. 2014. The stable isotope analysis to the “C” and “N” of the human’s bone unearthed in Duogang cemetery, Xinjiang. Cultural Relics in Southern China 3:7991.
Zhang, X, Wang, J, Xian, Z, Chou, SH. 2003. Study on food structure of ancient people. Archaeology 2:6275.
Zhao, K, Li, X, Zhou, X, Dodson, J, Ji, M. 2012. Characteristics of agricultural activities and its impact on the environment at Xintala site, Xinjiang, reconstructed from archaeological plant remains. Quaternary Sciences 32:219225.
Zhao, Z. 2011. New archaeobotanic data for the study of the origins of agriculture in China. Current Anthropology 52(S4):S295S306.
Ziegler, M, Simon, MH, Hall, IR, Barker, S, Stringer, C, Zahn, R. 2013. Development of Middle Stone Age innovation linked to rapid climate change. Nature Communications 4(5):1905.

Keywords

Type Description Title
WORD
Supplementary materials

Zhao et al. supplementary material
Tables S1-S2 and Figures S1-S5

 Word (436 KB)
436 KB

HUMAN DIETARY COMPLEXITY IN TIANSHAN REGION AND THE INFLUENCE OF CLIMATE ON HUMAN PALEODIET

  • Haiyan Zhao (a1) (a2) (a3), Weijian Zhou (a1) (a2) (a4), Hua Du (a1) (a2), Peng Cheng (a1) (a2), Peter Weiming Jia (a5) and Wei Gong (a1) (a2)...

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.