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Social status of individuals discovered at Ananauri kurgan (Bedeni, Georgia): A dietary investigation inferred from stable isotopes

Abstract : Discovered in Eastern Georgia in 2012, by the Georgian expedition directed by Zurab Makharadze, an impressive kurgan, dated from the second half of the third millennium BC yielded human remains belonging at least to seven individuals located in different areas of the chamber. A collapse of the chamber roof and the two wagons has prevented any analysis of funeral practices. Therefore in order to gain as much insight as possible about the people buried in the chamber, the human skeletons were studied. It was possible to define the minimum number of individuals, and the demographic and health status of the deceased. In addition, to obtain social and cultural information, an investigation of human dietary practices in the past was performed using biochemical analysis (13C, 15N) on collagen bone tissues. The homogeneity of dietary practices within the group was explored in order to understand which types of food items were favoured (terrestrial/aquatic) and what were the type and the of the animal proteins consumed. Expecting similar isotopic variability between bone samples from a same individual and based on anthropological information, it has been possible to propose at least the presence of eight individuals. Regardless of the carbon and nitrogen isotope values, one may observe a wide variability among the collagen samples, suggesting the presence of three clusters corresponding to different dietary patterns. According to sex and age at death, two female individuals, one subadult and one adult exhibit the highest isotope values suggesting a significant consumption of food items enriched in heavy isotopes, for instance, meat or freshwater fish. This pattern is in contrast with four other individuals who exhibit the lowest isotope values indicating a lower consumption of meat from domestic as well as wild animals. These differences could be related to social factors or different geographical origins for some individuals. At this time, it is still difficult to make definitive conclusions, but the recent discovery of a kurgan dated from the same period in Azerbaijan will soon offer new information about the identity and social status of people buried in tombs of this kind, which were typical of the end of the Early Bronze Age.
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Contributor : Estelle Herrscher <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, December 6, 2016 - 11:30:28 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, February 12, 2020 - 1:15:10 AM


  • HAL Id : hal-01411065, version 1



Estelle Herrscher, Chkadua Marina, Vanishvili Nikolos, André Guy. Social status of individuals discovered at Ananauri kurgan (Bedeni, Georgia): A dietary investigation inferred from stable isotopes. Georgian National Museum. Ananauri big Kurgan 3, pp.261-278, 2016. ⟨hal-01411065⟩



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