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Matrilocality during the prehistoric transition to agriculture in Thailand?

  • R. Alexander Bentley (a1), Michael Pietrusewsky (a2), Michele T. Douglas (a3) and Tim C. Atkinson (a4)

Stable isotopes in teeth are providing important correlations between ancient people and the geographical location of their childhood homes. In an exciting new application, the authors measured the varying signatures of strontium, oxygen and carbon isotopes in the teeth of a sequence of people buried in Thailand during the period of the introduction and intensification of agriculture. Preliminary results point to the arrival of immigrant men, followed by a change in the relationship between the sexes: the women grow up on local food, the men have access to more widespread resources. This perhaps implies a matrilocal system, where forager men raised elsewhere marry into farming communities. It provides a likely antithesis to the social consequences of introducing agriculture into central Europe.

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