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Is the Mesolithic–Neolithic Subsistence Dichotomy Real? New Stable Isotope Evidence from the Danube Gorges

  • Dušan Borić (a1), Gisela Grupe (a2), Joris Peters (a2) and Živko Mikić (a3)
Abstract

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.

Dans cet article sont présentés de nouveaux résultats d'analyses par isotopes stables faites sur des ossements humains et animals provenant des sites du Mésolithique et du Néolithique récent de Lepenski Vir et de Vlasac, dans les gorges du Danube sur les Balkans. À l'aide de l'étude isotopique de différentes espèces de mammifères et de poissons trouvés à Vlasac, on essaie de reconstruire le réseau alimentaire de la région durant ces périodes. Ces résultats sont ensuite comparés aux analyses faites sur des inhumations des deux sites. A la lumière de ces nouveaux résultats, cet article se penche aussi sur les interprétations des analyses isotopiques faites sur ce matériel antérieurement et conclut qu'à cause des complexités méthodologiques inhérentes à ce type d'analyses, les études isotopiques doivent être exécutées avec le plus grand soin. De même, il est nécessaire d'intégrer les résultats des études par isotopes stables aux informations extraites de l'étude des restes de faune et des contextes archéologiques des sépultures analysées, avant d'en déduire des modèles d'alimentation paléolithique.

Zusammenfassung

In diesem Beitrag präsentieren wir die neuesten Ergebnisse von Analysen stabiler Isotope von mesolithischen und frühneolithischen tierischen und menschlichen Skelettfunden der Fundorte Lepenski Vir und Vlasac aus der Donauschlucht “Eisernes Tor” auf dem Balkan.

Ein Nahrungsnetzwerk für diese Zeitstufen konnte anhand der Isotopenanalysen der Säugetierund Fischknochen von Vlasac rekonstruiert und mit den Ergebnissen der menschlichen Überreste beider Fundorte in Bezug gesetzt werden. Die neuen Erkenntnisse dieser Studie werden mit den Ergebnissen früherer Isotopenstudien an Material beider Fundorte diskutiert. Eine sorgfältige Interpretation der Isotopendaten ist aufgrund von inhärenten methodischen Komplexitäten dieser Forschungsmethode erforderlich. Weiterhin ist es relevant, dass die zur Verfügung stehenden Isotopendaten im Kontext des Faunenspektrums und der archäologischen Fundsituation vor Ort abgeglichen werden, um stichhaltige Schlussfolgerungen über frühe Ernährungsmuster zu gewinnen.

Ovaj rad predstavlja nove nalaze u analizi stabilnih izotopa na životinjskim i ljudskim kostima sa mezolitsko-ranoneolitskih lokaliteta Lepenski Vir i Vlasac u -Derdapu. Na osnovu analiza stabilnih izotopa na različitim sisarskim i ribljim vrstama sa Vlasca bilo je moguće rekonstruisati lanac ishrane u datom regionu tokom ovih perioda. Ovi rezultati uporedjeni su sa merenjima stabilnih izotopa na ljudskim ostacima sa dva pomenuta lokaliteta. U svetlu novih analiza, rad razmatra prethodno ponudjene interpretacije analiza ovog materijala. Zaključak upozorava da je neophodan veći oprez u razumevanju rezultata stabilnih izotopa zbog svojstvene metodološke složenosti ovakvih analiza. Takodje je potrebno da informacije koje su dobijene na osnovu analiza stabilnih izotopa u rekonstrukciji paleo-ishrane budu integrisane sa podacima o ishrani koji su zasnovani na analizi faunističkih ostataka i arheološkom kontekstu analiziranih ljudskih ostataka.

Copyright
Corresponding author
[email: db231@cam.ac.uk]
[email: ASM.Grupe@extern.lrz-muenchen.de]
[email: joris.peters@palaeo.vetmed.uni-muenchen.de]
[email: zmikic@f.bg.ac.yu]
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