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Palaeodiet of Mesolithic and Neolithic populations of Meuse Basin (Belgium): evidence from stable isotopes

Abstract : The human diet was investigated using the carbon and nitrogen isotopic signatures of 93 Mesolithic and Neolithic specimens (not, vert, similar10,000–2000 BC) from the Meuse Basin (Belgium). During the Ancient Mesolithic period (not, vert, similar9300–8000 BC), the environment was generally open and the main dietary protein was provided by hunted terrestrial mammals, with the possible addition of freshwater resources. Human remains are not available in the Meuse Basin from around 8000 BC to 4300 BC, thus preventing the study of the Mesolithic-Neolithic dietary transition in this region. Throughout the Middle Neolithic (not, vert, similar4300–3000 BC), hunting was more difficult and less productive due to a densely forested environment. The contribution of freshwater resources to the diet increased, with the remaining proteins provided by terrestrial wild and/or domestic mammals, indicating that non-agricultural resources were not eliminated in this region during the Middle Neolithic period. The contribution of freshwater resources seems negligible in the Middle/Late and Late Neolithic periods (not, vert, similar3300–1700 BC), with isotopic results revealing a diet composed of agricultural products. The δ15N values of infants are compatible with a weaning age at around 2 years. This study documents the dietary changes that occurred in Belgium during the first part of the Holocene, and reveals the subtle dietary distinction between wild and domestic terrestrial resources and freshwater resources.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, October 6, 2009 - 11:09:03 AM
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Hervé Bocherens, Caroline Polet, Michal Toussaint. Palaeodiet of Mesolithic and Neolithic populations of Meuse Basin (Belgium): evidence from stable isotopes. Journal of Archaeological Science, Elsevier, 2007, 34 (1), pp.10-27. ⟨10.1016/j.jas.2006.03.009⟩. ⟨halsde-00422178⟩



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