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Viking Haithabu and its successor, the medieval town of Schleswig, were important international trade centres. Human skeletal finds spanning a period of approximately 400 years represent the bodily relics of the former inhabitants, who witnessed the rise and fall of these trade centres. Analysis of δ13C and δ15N from bone collagen was performed to reconstruct and detect changes in dietary preferences over time. A comparison with the respective isotopic data obtained from a large archaeofaunal sample resulted in a classic ‘mixing muddle’ that could only be deciphered using isotope mass balance mixing models applied on an individual basis. It was found that the overall subsistence economy shifted over time from a focus on fishing to one based predominantly on farming. The move to utilizing a new main source of protein did not impair overall protein supply. In addition, changing living conditions experienced by the inhabitants of Schleswig may have led to a change in infant nursing strategy.
Human skeletal remains from Bell Beaker graves in southern Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Hungary were analyzed for information on human migration. Strontium isotope ratios were measured in bone and tooth enamel to determine if these individuals had changed ‘geological’ residence during their lifetimes. Strontium isotopes vary among different types of rock. They enter the body through diet and are deposited in the skeleton. Tooth enamel forms during early childhood and does not change. Bone changes continually through life. Difference in the strontium isotope ratio between bone and enamel in the same individual indicates change in residence. Results from the analysis of 81 Bell Beaker individuals indicated that 51 had moved during their lifetime. Information on the geology of south-central Europe, the application of strontium isotope analysis, and the relevant Bell Beaker sites is provided along with discussion of the results of the study.
The early Neolithic in northern Central Europe ought to be the theatre in which incoming farmers meet local hunter-gatherers, with greater or lesser impact. By way of contrast, the authors use isotope analysis in a cemetery beside the Danube to describe a peaceful, well-integrated community with a common diet and largely indigenous inhabitants. Men and women may have had different mobility strategies, but the isotopes did not signal special origins or diverse food-producing roles. Other explanations attend the variations in the burial rites of individuals and their distribution into cemetery plots.
The article presents new results of stable isotope analyses made on animal and human bones from the Mesolithic–early Neolithic sites of Lepenski Vir and Vlasac in the Danube Gorges of the Balkans. It reconstructs the food web for the region during these periods on the basis of stable isotope analyses of mammal and fish species found at Vlasac. These results are compared to measurements made on human burials from the two sites. In the light of these new results, the article also discusses interpretations provided by previous isotopic studies of this material. It concludes that great care is required in the interpretation of stable isotope results due to inherent methodological complexities of this type of analysis, and suggests that it is also necessary to integrate stable isotope results with information based on the examination of faunal remains and the archaeological context of analysed burials when making inferences about palaeodietary patterns.