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Isotopic sourcing reveals changing subsistence, cultural diversity and biological correlates with palaeodiet in fourth- to seventh-century AD Bavaria

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jats:titleAbstract </jats:title>jats:pStable carbon and nitrogen isotopic ratios (δjats:sup13</jats:sup>C, δjats:sup15</jats:sup>N) in bone collagen of archaeological skeletal finds are indicators of the protein sources in individuals’ basic diet. Isotopic sourcing allows us to quantify the biomass contribution of major dietary components and to differentiate between the source contribution of various animal species (domesticates, game). We re-evaluated previously published isotopic signatures in skeletons from three burial sites in Bavaria, dated from Late Antiquity to Early Mediaeval times (Erding-Klettham, Erding-Altenerding, Straubing-Bajuwarenstraße) by use of a mixing model. The result is a more detailed reconstruction, supported by contextual evidence, of both early subsistence economies and individual dietary preferences. We were able to confirm relationships between non-local dietary behaviour and foreign cultural influences (grave goods and artificial cranial modification) that have previously been suggested by the burial context and DNA analyses and that are plausibly explained by migration events. Moreover, we differentiated early and late immigrants from each other, requiring a re-evaluation of the earlier interpretation of exogamy. In addition, individual dietary preferences indicate even more migration events and social stratifications that could not previously be identified by the archaeological evidence alone.</jats:p>


Funder: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (1024)


Palaeodiet, Stable isotopes, Isotopic sourcing, Mixing models

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Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC