The 89th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2020)

Something Fishy in Denmark? An Analysis of Freshwater and Marine Fish Consumption in Medieval Denmark


Anthropological Sciences, Radford University

April 16, 2020 , Platinum Ballroom Add to calendar

Previous examinations of diet using stable carbon and nitrogen isotope (δ15N and δ13C)analysis on a cross-section of Danish society at the medieval site of Øm Kloster found differences in a comparison of peasants, elites and the monastic community throughout the medieval period. Specifically, this research found that in the middle period (1300-1375 AD) the monastic sample showed a sharp increase in their δ15N ratios, surpassing that of even the elites. However, there was no shift in the δ13Ccoll13Cap value, nor in the δ13C ratios from either carbonate or collagen from the monastic sample. These results suggest that freshwater fish may have had an increased role in the diet of the monastic community in the middle period. Considering this, the current research aims to examine the role of freshwater fish resources in the diets of monastic, elite and peasant populations interred at Øm Kloster using the analysis of the stable isotopes of sulfur (δ34S). Interestingly, the preliminary δ34S results instead suggest a fairly strong marine component to the diet. These results are explored and put into context in this paper.

Slides/Poster (pdf)