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Food for Thought: Re-Assessing Mesolithic Diets in the Iron Gates

  • Clive Bonsall (a1), Gordon Cook (a2), Catriona Pickard (a1), Kathleen McSweeney (a1), Kerry Sayle (a2), László Bartosiewicz (a3), Ivana Radovanović (a4), Thomas Higham (a5), Andrei Soficaru (a6) and Adina Boroneanţ (a7)...

Stable isotope ratios of carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur in human bone collagen are used routinely to aid in the reconstruction of ancient diets. Isotopic analysis of human remains from sites in the Iron Gates section of the Lower Danube Valley has led to conflicting interpretations of Mesolithic diets in this key region of southeast Europe. One view (Bonsall et al. 1997, 2004) is that diets were based mainly on riverine resources throughout the Mesolithic. A competing hypothesis (Nehlich et al. 2010) argues that Mesolithic diets were more varied with at least one Early Mesolithic site showing an emphasis on terrestrial resources, and riverine resources only becoming dominant in the Later Mesolithic. The present article revisits this issue, discussing the stable isotope data in relation to archaeozoological and radiocarbon evidence.

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