Human paleodiet and animal utilization strategies during the Bronze Age in northwest Yunnan Province, southwest China.
ABSTRACT: Reconstructing ancient diets and the use of animals and plants augment our understanding of how humans adapted to different environments. Yunnan Province in southwest China is ecologically and environmentally diverse. During the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods, this region was occupied by a variety of local culture groups with diverse subsistence systems and material culture. In this paper, we obtained carbon (?13C) and nitrogen (?15N) isotopic ratios from human and faunal remains in order to reconstruct human paleodiets and strategies for animal exploitation at the Bronze Age site of Shilinggang (ca. 2500 Cal BP) in northwest Yunnan Province. The ?13C results for human samples from Shilinggang demonstrate that people's diets were mainly dominated by C3-based foodstuffs, probably due to both direct consumption of C3 food and as a result of C3 foddering of consumed animals. Auxiliary C4 food signals can also be detected. High ?15N values indicate that meat was an important component of the diet. Analysis of faunal samples indicates that people primarily fed pigs and dogs with human food waste, while sheep/goats and cattle were foddered with other food sources. We compare stable isotope and archaeobotanical data from Shilinggang with data from other Bronze Age sites in Yunnan to explore potential regional variation in subsistence strategies. Our work suggests that people adopted different animal utilization and subsistence strategies in different parts of Yunnan during the Bronze Age period, probably as local adaptations to the highly diversified and isolated environments in the region.
Project description:Investigation of human diet during the Neolithic has often been limited to a few archaeological cultures or single sites. In order to provide insight into the development of human food consumption and husbandry strategies, our study explores bone collagen carbon and nitrogen isotope data from 466 human and 105 faunal individuals from 26 sites in central Germany. It is the most extensive data set to date from an enclosed geographic microregion, covering 4,000 years of agricultural history from the Early Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age. The animal data show that a variety of pastures and dietary resources were explored, but that these changed remarkably little over time. In the human ?15N however we found a significant increase with time across the different archaeological cultures. This trend could be observed in all time periods and archaeological cultures (Bell Beaker phenomenon excluded), even on continuously populated sites. Since there was no such trend in faunal isotope values, we were able largely to exclude manuring as the cause of this effect. Based on the rich interdisciplinary data from this region and archaeological period we can argue that meat consumption increased with the increasing duration of farming subsistence. In ?13C, we could not observe any clear increasing or decreasing trends during the archaeological time periods, either for humans or for animals, which would have suggested significant changes in the environment and landscape use. We discovered sex-related dietary differences, with males of all archaeological periods having higher ?15N values than females, and an age-related increasing consumption of animal protein. An initial decrease of ?15N-values at the age of 1-2 years reveals partial weaning, while complete weaning took place at the age of 3-4 years.
Project description:Schipluiden (3630-3380 cal BC), the earliest known year-round settlement in the Rhine-Meuse Delta in the Netherlands, is a key site for addressing the nature of Neolithic subsistence in the wetlands of northwestern Europe. A preliminary zooarchaeological study suggested that cattle husbandry was a major activity at Schipluiden. In contrast, stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses of human remains from the site indicated a marine-oriented diet, implying that the Mesolithic-Neolithic dietary transition continued well into the mid-4th Millennium BC in this region. Here, we re-investigate the role and nature of cattle husbandry at Neolithic Schipluiden using mortality profiles and stable isotope analysis (?18O, ?13C, ?15N) of animal bone collagen and tooth enamel. The age-at-death analysis suggests that cattle were managed for both meat and milk production. The ?18O and ?13C analysis of tooth enamel provide evidence that calving spread over five-and-a-half-months, which would have led to a longer availability of milk throughout the year. Cattle were grazing in open, marshy environments near the site and winter foddering was practiced occasionally. The faunal isotopic data also reveal that the high 15N in human bone collagen is more likely to signal the consumption of products from cattle that grazed on 15N-enriched salt marsh plants around the site, rather than a marine-oriented diet. This undermines the previous interpretation of the dietary practices at Schipluiden by showing that human diet in mid-4th millennium BC Rhine-Meuse area was fully "Neolithic", based primarily on products from domesticates, especially cattle, with some input from wild terrestrial and aquatic resources available in their surroundings, contrary to what has been proposed before. Collating these results demonstrates a high level of investment in cattle husbandry, highlighting the social and economic importance of cattle at the lower Rhine-Meuse Delta during the 4th millennium BC.
Project description:Mobile pastoralists are thought to have facilitated the first trans-Eurasian dispersals of domesticated plants during the Early Bronze Age (ca 2500-2300 BC). Problematically, the earliest seeds of wheat, barley and millet in Inner Asia were recovered from human mortuary contexts and do not inform on local cultivation or subsistence use, while contemporaneous evidence for the use and management of domesticated livestock in the region remains ambiguous. We analysed mitochondrial DNA and multi-stable isotopic ratios (?13C, ?15N and ?18O) of faunal remains from key pastoralist sites in the Dzhungar Mountains of southeastern Kazakhstan. At ca 2700 BC, Near Eastern domesticated sheep and goat were present at the settlement of Dali, which were also winter foddered with the region's earliest cultivated millet spreading from its centre of domestication in northern China. In the following centuries, millet cultivation and caprine management became increasingly intertwined at the nearby site of Begash. Cattle, on the other hand, received low levels of millet fodder at the sites for millennia. By primarily examining livestock dietary intake, this study reveals that the initial transmission of millet across the mountains of Inner Asia coincided with a substantial connection between pastoralism and plant cultivation, suggesting that pastoralist livestock herding was integral for the westward dispersal of millet from farming societies in China.
Project description:Several previous studies on targeted food items using carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios in Brazil have revealed that many of the items investigated are adulterated; mislabeled or even fraud. Here, we present the first Brazilian isotopic baseline assessment that can be used not only in future forensic cases involving food authenticity, but also in human forensic anthropology studies. The ?13C and ?15N were determined in 1245 food items and 374 beverages; most of them made in Brazil. The average ?13C and ?15N of C3 plants were -26.7 ± 1.5?, and 3.9 ± 3.9?, respectively, while the average ?13C and ?15N of C4 plants were -11.5 ± 0.8? and 4.6 ± 2.6?, respectively. The ?13C and ?15N of plant-based processed foods were -21.8 ± 4.8? and 3.9 ± 2.7?, respectively. The average ?13C and ?15N of meat, including beef, poultry, pork and lamb were -16.6 ± 4.7?, and 5.2 ± 2.6?, respectively, while the ?13C and ?15N of animal-based processed foods were -17.9 ± 3.3? and 3.3 ± 3.5?, respectively. The average ?13C of beverages, including beer and wine was -22.5 ± 3.1?. We verified that C-C4 constitutes a large proportion of fresh meat, dairy products, as well as animal and plant-based processed foods. The reasons behind this high proportion will be addressed in this study.
Project description:The development of farming was a catalyst for the evolution of the human diet from the varied subsistence practices of hunter-gatherers to the more globalised food economy we depend upon today. Although there has been considerable research into the dietary changes associated with the initial spread of farming, less attention has been given to how dietary choices continued to develop during subsequent millennia. A paleogenomic time transect for 5 millennia of human occupation in the Great Hungarian Plain spanning from the advent of the Neolithic to the Iron Age, showed major genomic turnovers. Here we assess where these genetic turnovers are associated with corresponding dietary shifts, by examining the carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios of 52 individuals. Results provide evidence that early Neolithic individuals, which were genetically characterised as Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, relied on wild resources to a greater extent than those whose genomic attributes were of typical Neolithic European farmers. Other Neolithic individuals and those from the Copper Age to Bronze Age periods relied mostly on terrestrial C3 plant resources. We also report a carbon isotopic ratio typical of C4 plants, which may indicate millet consumption in the Late Bronze Age, despite suggestions of the crop's earlier arrival in Europe during the Neolithic.
Project description:To complement literature-based historical knowledge of the eating habits of 17th- and 18th-century Japan, we analysed carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios (?13C and ?15N, respectively) of human hairs embedded in cover paper of Japanese books printed during 1690s-1890s, taking regional and temporal variations into consideration. We purchased 24 book sets from second-hand book markets. Twenty-three sets contained enough human hairs, which were non-destructively extracted from the thick, recycled paper of the book covers and used to measure the ?13C and ?15N values, found to be identical within each book set. Relatively low ?13C values and high ?15N values suggested that people depended on rice, C3 vegetables, and fish, more exclusively than contemporary Japanese people. The relatively high ?13C values found in Edo (Tokyo) might be associated with the preference for C4 millets by Edo people as a measure against beriberi (locally recognised as the Edo affliction). The ?15N values gradually increased over 200 years, indicating an increase in the contribution of marine fish both as food and fertiliser for rice fields as suggested by literature-based studies. Further collection of hairs from books will enable a thorough examination of regional and temporal variations to better understand the pre-globalised food culture.
Project description:The emergence of agriculture in Central Africa has previously been associated with the migration of Bantu-speaking populations during an anthropogenic or climate-driven 'opening' of the rainforest. However, such models are based on assumptions of environmental requirements of key crops (e.g. Pennisetum glaucum) and direct insights into human dietary reliance remain absent. Here, we utilise stable isotope analysis (?13C, ?15N, ?18O) of human and animal remains and charred food remains, as well as plant microparticles from dental calculus, to assess the importance of incoming crops in the Congo Basin. Our data, spanning the early Iron Age to recent history, reveals variation in the adoption of cereals, with a persistent focus on forest and freshwater resources in some areas. These data provide new dietary evidence and document the longevity of mosaic subsistence strategies in the region.
Project description:The introduction of wheat into central China is thought to have been one of the significant contributions of interactions between China and Central Asia which began in the 3rd millennium bc. However, only a limited number of Neolithic wheat grains have been found in central China and even fewer have been directly radiocarbon dated, making the date when wheat was adopted in the region and its role in subsistence farming uncertain. Based on systematic archaeobotanical data and direct dating of wheat remains from the Xiazhai site in central China, as well as a critical review of all reported discoveries of Neolithic and Bronze Age wheat from this region, we conclude that many wheat finds are intrusive in Neolithic contexts. We argue that the role of wheat in the subsistence of the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age of central China was minimal, and that wheat only began to increase in its subsistence role in the later Bronze Age during the Zhou dynasty after ca. 1000 bc.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:An FFQ developed by the Center for Alaska Native Health Research for studies in Yup'ik people includes market foods and subsistence foods such as moose, seal, waterfowl and salmon that may be related to disease risk. Because the FFQ contains >100 food items, we sought to characterize dietary patterns more simply for use in ongoing pharmacogenomics studies. DESIGN:Exploratory factor analysis was used to derive a small number of 'factors' that explain a substantial amount of the variation in the Yup'ik diet. We estimated factor scores and measured associations with demographic characteristics and biomarkers. SETTING:South-west Alaska, USA. SUBJECTS:Yup'ik people (n 358) aged ?18 years. RESULTS:We identified three factors that each accounted for ?10 % of the common variance: the first characterized by 'processed foods' (e.g. salty snacks, sweetened cereals); the second by 'fruits and vegetables' (e.g. fresh citrus, potato salad); and the third by 'subsistence foods' (seal or walrus soup, non-oily fish). Participants from coastal communities had higher values for the 'subsistence' factor, whereas participants from inland communities had higher values for the 'fruits and vegetables' factor. A biomarker of marine intake, ? 15N, was correlated with the 'subsistence' factor, whereas a biomarker of corn- and sugarcane-based market food intake, ? 13C, was correlated with 'processed foods'. CONCLUSIONS:The exploratory factor analysis identified three factors that appeared to reflect dietary patterns among Yup'ik based on associations with participant characteristics and biomarkers. These factors will be useful for chronic disease studies in this population.
Project description:Background:Brazil is a low- to medium-income country and has the second largest pet food market in the world with 8% of world pet food consumption. The lowest-income social class spends around 17% of their domestic budget on pet food and other items related to pets. Consumers are frequently misled by advertising as there is no precise information about the main sources of protein, carbohydrates and fat in the labels, and the Brazilian pet food industry can legally claim that their products contain certain items like salmon or beef even if they use just a flavoring compound. Methods:The stable isotope methodology compares the stable isotope ratios of carbon (13C/12C) and nitrogen (15N/14N) between source and product. The 13C/12C ratio of a specific product (e.g., dog food) reveals the proportions of C4 (maize) and C3 (soybean, rice and wheat) plants in that product and the 15N/14N ratio reveals the proportion of the compounds derived from animals. With this isotopic data, we used MixSIAR, a Bayesian stable isotope-mixing model, to estimate the proportion of maize, grains, poultry and beef in dog food. Results:The ?13C values of dry dog food ranged from -24.2‰ to -12.8‰, with an average (± standard-deviation) of -17.1‰ ± 2.8‰. The ?13C values of wet pet food ranged from -25.4‰ to -16.9‰, with an average (± standard-deviation) of -21.2‰ ± 2.4‰, which was significantly lower (p < 0.01). The ?15N values of the dry and wet food ranged from 1.7‰ to 4.2‰, and from 0.5‰ to 5.5‰, respectively. The average ?15N values of dry food (2.9‰ ± 0.5‰) was not higher than the wet food (2.6‰ ± 1.3‰) (p > 0.01). The output of the MixSIAR showed a low proportion of bovine products in dry dog food samples. On the other hand, poultry was obviously the dominant ingredient present in most of the samples. Maize was the second dominant ingredient. Wet and dry dog food showed similar isotopic analysis results. The only difference was a lower proportion of maize and higher proportion of grains in wet dog food. Discussion:The main finding is that dog food in Brazil is mostly made of approximately 60% (ranging from 32% to 86%) animal-based and 40% (ranging from 14% to 67%) plant-based products. Poultry and maize are the main ingredients. Poultry is added as a by-product or meal, which avoids competition between dogs and humans for meat products, while they can compete for maize. On the other hand, a large proportion of plant-based products in dog food decreases the energy and environmental footprint, since plant-based food products tend to be less harmful compared to animal-based products. Labels can mislead consumers by showing pictures of items that are not necessarily part of the product composition and by not showing the detailed information on the proportion of each ingredient. This information would allow customers to make their own choices considering their pet's nutrition, the competition between animals and humans for resources and environmental sustainability.