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BHAP team members I Scharlotta, R Schulting, C Bronk Ramsey, V van der Haas and A Weber present at the Radiocarbon and Diet 2nd International Symposium at Aarhus University, Copenhagen

June 20, 2017

BHAP team members Ian Scharlotta, Rick Schulting, Christopher Bronk Ramsey, Victoria van der Haas and Andrzej Weber presented at the Radiocarbon and Diet 2nd International Symposium at Aarhus University, Copenhagen.

From the website: "The research focus of this workshop will be on the utility of stable isotopes (hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and sulphur) to infer past dietary histories of prehistoric humans. Because the diet of choice may influence the radiocarbon age of a prehistoric human, stable isotope analysis and dietary reconstructions are essential to infer correct chronologies of prehistoric humans. The symposium will cover topics such as "Human reservoir effects in archaeology", "Pottery and aquatic foods: radiocarbon and isotopic signatures", Compound specific isotopic analysis" and "Detecting, quantifying, and modelling dietary reservoir effects"."

Rick Schulting was the Keynote Speaker!

"The problems caused by people consuming foods past their sell-by date." R Schulting.

The problems for the radiocarbon dating of archaeological human remains caused by ‘old carbon' reservoirs have long been known, but their full extent and importance has only slowly become fully appreciated. This is particularly so for freshwater reservoir offsets, which are proving to be extremely variable, and can often have a much greater effect than marine systems. Clearly we would like to be able to use dietary proxies to estimate the contribution of foods with a 14C reservoir offset. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes remains the most widely used for this purpose, though other isotopes such as sulphur and hydrogen may also be useful in certain contexts. This presentation reviews a number of archaeological case studies attempting to correct for reservoir offsets in both marine and freshwater systems, ranging from those that proved very successful, to those with some rather surprising results.

"Investigating histories of individual shifts in diet and behavior in early neolithic hunter-gatherers from the Shamanka II cemetery on Lake Baikal, Siberia." I Scharlotta, G Goude, E Herrscher, AW Weber, VI Bazaliiskii.

Using a high-resolution chronological framework developed for Early Neolithic Cis-Baikal, Siberia, grave goods and stable isotope data are analyzed for specific relationships between functional items, prestige goods, and diet. Evidence suggests increasing importance of fishing during two separate phases of cemetery use at Shamanka II. Dietary changes and interlinked social structures may have contributed to differentiation in the cemetery. Fishing specialists are identifiable in grave assemblages. Individual fishers did not employ methods consistent with intensification. Their role in providing important food resources did not translate to apparent prestige or wealth in certain grave goods at Shamanka II. Bulk data have indicated the presence of a mixed population in terms of origins and diet, the need for caution prior to their use in support of clear behavioral inferences, and further refinement of the method-ological approaches. Dentine micro-sampling allows of sequential molars provides a detailed picture of the first 20 years of these individual's lives. With this insight, we can re-examine the grave good evidence in the context of detailed dietary information to identify both individual attributes and population trends through time linking diet and material culture.

"Micro-sampling and early life dietary history among Early Bronze Age (~4600-3700 cal BP) hunter-gatherers on Lake Baikal, Siberia." V van der Haas, OI Goriunova, AW Weber.

This paper presents an investigation into the early life dietary history of Early Bronze Age (EBA) hunter-gatherers (~4600-3700 cal. BP) from the Cis-Baikal region, Siberia, using the method of micro-sampling dentine of permanent molars. The dentine has been sampled into 1mm slices each analyzed for carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios. As tooth dentine does not turnover once formed, each sample represents roughly nine months of developmental life. Micro-sampling allows for a more complete and informative record of early life dietary history with greatly improved temporal resolution of the geochemical signatures obtained. Previous geochemical tests on bone of the same individuals examined in this study demonstrated that during the EBA hunter-gatherer groups migrated from the north of the Cis-Baikal, the Upper Lena area, towards the coast of Lake Baikal, the Little Sea area. Some hunter-gatherers appear to have retained diets typical of their homeland while in other cases local diets appear to be relatively quickly adopted. Recent research also shows that the diet of these hunter-gatherers has influenced their radiocarbon ages due to a freshwater reservoir effect in Lake Baikal and its surrounding rivers.

"Early Bronze Age (~4600-3700 cal BP) hunter-gatherer chronological and dietary patterns on Lake Baikal, Siberia." AW Weber, R Schulting, CB Ramsey, OI Goriunova.

Over the last 20 years, the Baikal Archaeology Project has invested many resources into research on Middle Holocene (~8300-3500 cal BP) hunter-gatherers of the Cis-Baikal region in Siberia. Examination of new materials excavated by the project and analysis of previously accumulated archaeological collections produced many new insights on just about every aspect of Baikal's hunter-gatherers. We now have a very good record of spatial and temporal variation in diet, subsistence, mobility and migrations, health, trauma and activity patterns, population size and distribution, mortuary practices and some information on genetic structure. A recent break-through is the identification of the Freshwater Reservoir Effect (FRE) in the regions ecosystem and the development of a method that allows radiocarbon dates done on human skeletal remains to be corrected for it. This, in turn, facilitates two studies that previously could not be undertaken: (1) building chronologies of decadal resolution for the Baikal region at different spatial scales from an individual cemetery through to the entire region; and (2) tracking dietary changes over time with equal spatio-temporal resolution. The paper focuses on Early Bronze Age (~4600-3700 cal BP) hunter-gatherers in the Little Sea area on Lake Baikal and identifies a few entirely new chronological and dietary patterns among these groups.

"Refining the radiocarbon chronology of Yuzhnyi Olenii Ostrov, Karelia, NW Russia." R Schulting, T Higham, CB Ramsey, V Khartanovich, V Moiseyev, D Gerasimov, K
Mannermaa, P Tarasov, AW Weber.

With over 170 extant burials, Yuzhnyi Olenii Ostrov is one of the largest Stone Age cemeteries in northern Eurasia. It has long featured in debates concerning the emergence of social complexity and inequality. A missing component in these discussions has been a robust and precise absolute chronology. While a number of radiocarbon determinations are available, confirming the cemetery's attribution to the Mesolithic period, these suffer from a number of problems in terms of precision. Moreover, there is the potential for significant freshwater reservoir effects (FRE) that have not been taken into account. Here, we investigate the extent of the FRE through a programme of paired dating of human and terrestrial animal bone from the same graves. The results fall into two groups, one with a significant FRE of up to 330 14C years, while another group shows no significant 14C offset. Unexpectedly, the two groups have similar stable carbon isotope values, and equally high stable nitrogen isotope values. Possible explanations for this finding are discussed.

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