The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)


Neolithic transition in central and south-eastern Italy: an isotopic approach

GABRIELE SCORRANO1, ROBERTA LELLI1, FLAVIO DE ANGELIS1, GIANFRANCO BIONDI2, MAURO BRILLI3, MAURO CALATTINI4, CECILIA CONATI BARBARO5, OLIVER E. CRAIG6, MARIA ANTONIA GORGOGLIONE7, ALESSANDRA MANFREDINI5, CRISTINA MARTÍNEZ-LABARGA1, FRANCESCA RADINA8, MARIO FEDERICO ROLFO9, MARA SILVESTRINI10, CARLO TOZZI11 and OLGA RICKARDS1.

1Dipartimento di Biologia, Università di Roma Tor Vergata, Italia, 2Dipartimento di Scienze Ambientali, Università dell’Aquila, L'Aquila, Italia, 3Istituto di Geologia Ambientale e Geoingegneria, CNR Montelibretti, Roma, Italia, 4Dipartimento di Archeologia e Storia delle Arti Sezione di Preistoria, Università di Siena, Italia, 5Dipartimento di Scienze dell’Antichità, Università Sapienza, Roma, Italia, 6BioArCh, Department of Archaeology, University of York, UK, 7Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Puglia, Taranto, Italia, 8Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Puglia, Bari, Italia, 9Dipartimento di Beni Culturali, Musica e Spettacolo, Università di Roma Tor Vergata, Italia, 10Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici delle Marche, Ancona, Italia, 11Dipartimento di Scienze Archeologiche, Università di Pisa, Italia

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The arrival of agricultural and breeding practices at around the X millennium BC had prominent repercussion on culture, economy, demography and settlement patterns of Old World and still represents a fascinating and challenging subject matter amongst scholars.

In this work, the question of Neolithic transition was faced in dietary terms with the aim to investigate the subsistence strategies at Neolithic times. For this purpose bone collagen carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analysis was applied to 73 bone remains (27 human, 46 animal) collected from Early Neolithic sites of central and south-eastern Italy. Collagen of satisfactory quality was obtained from 27 humans and 42 animals; the remaining 4 animals were excluded since no collagen yields or C:N > 3.6.

Since complexity and uncertainty in the interpretation of stable isotope values, mixing model software (MixSIR_1.0.4) was used to better interpret the contribution of different sources to diet. The results seem to highlight a significant dietary variability amongst farmers letting suppose a geographical differentiation between inland and coastal Early Neolithic sites.

To understand the economic implications, i.e. the extent of the shift from hunting and foraging to farming, the results obtained were compared to the data of Mesolithic and Palaeolithic sites. A significant dietary variability was highlighted between farmers and hunter-gatherers letting suppose a temporal differentiation.

On the basis of the geographical and temporal variability observed, we can suppose that the introduction of agriculture resources was associated with the adaptation by Neolithic inhabitants to exploit different environments and landscapes.

Grant sponsor: MIUR-PRIN: 2008B4J2HS

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