In addition, variations in sulphur isotope data could provide information about migration of individuals.
They vary in different geographical regions and geological conditions Vika A further goal was a chronological analysis and a correlation of the results with archaeological findings. Different studies already assessed status-related diet within a population by linking stable isotope values to archaeological data such as grave goods, location of graves or burial types Jay and Richards ; Kinaston et al.
From the original abundantly equipped burials, the skulls of 77 individuals and some postcranial bones are still preserved today. One individual is only represented by the mandible. Due to conservational reasons, samples of only 71 individuals were taken for stable isotope analyses.
The collagen extraction followed the Ambrose and Longin procedure at the Department of Physical Anthropology at the University of Bern, Switzerland. To remove humic acids, the samples were treated with 0. Then, the samples were filtered and freeze-dried. An internal standard was used for determination of the analytical error. The collagen quality was verified as per Ambrose , Ambrose and DeNiro The robust T test for independent groups two parameters and the one-way ANOVA three or more parameters were used to determine significant differences between groups.
Additionally, the non-parametric Mann—Whitney U test two parameters and Kruskal—Wallis test three or more parameters for independent samples were used due to the small sample size as normality is not given for all groups Fagerland After applying the quality criteria, 63 of 71 collagen samples remained for the analysis of stable carbon, nitrogen and sulphur isotopes 27 males, 29 females, 7 infants.
All data will be shown with individual numbers because some graves contained more than one individual. Mann—Whitney U or Kruskal—Wallis test p.
T test for independent groups two parameters and one-way ANOVA three or more parameters were performed. Additionally, Mann—Whitney U test two parameters and non-parametric Kruskal—Wallis test three or more parameters for independent samples were used due to the small sample size. Forty-seven individuals out of 63 were found with grave goods and 16 without Jud The analysis of faunal remains can provide important information on the general status of the whole population, so human-faunal trophic level should be taken into consideration. There are a few faunal remains from the Iron Age burial site of Engehalbinsel, but they are not dated yet.
For a comparison of male and female data, the infant I and II age groups were excluded. These cereals were not only used for solid food. Palaeobotanical analysis showed that wheat and barley were the most common cereals in central Europe during the Iron Age. Lightfoot et al.
Eating these foods on the spot may also explain the largely absent wild animal bones in the settlement waste. Hunting or military excursions to neighbouring regions that lasted several days or weeks are a possible hypothesis. This is supported by the fact that no fish bones were recovered from this site Jud It should be mentioned that it is not unusual to have no fish bones on a burial site due to poor preservation or excavation techniques used in the past. However, Dobney and Ervynck mention cultural or spiritual factors as a possible explanation for this phenomenon.
The stable isotope ratios do not provide evidence of an increased consumption of freshwater fish, even though a wide variability of the isotope values has to be considered Katzenberg et al. It remains unclear why freshwater fish was apparently not used as an important resource even though the Aare River is nearby. Similarly, no exploitation of freshwater resources is suggested for the Iron Age burial site in Yarnton which is also close to a river Lightfoot et al. It is assumed that marine fish was not often used as food resource in the British Iron Age Dobney and Ervynck Likewise, investigations of diet in Iron Age Croatia found no evidence of significant marine protein consumption in spite of the analysed burial sites being close to the coast Lightfoot et al.
This result derives from a higher trophic level due to breastfeeding. Due to the lack of infant I and the small number of infant II, the weaning time cannot be narrowed down. This might suggest that the oldest individuals had a higher proportion of animal protein in their diet. This tendency stands in contrast to results from Iron Age Yarnton where the opposite was observed Lightfoot et al.
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Prowse et al. The data of Prowse et al. They suggest that maybe a suboptimal diet might have led to their early death. However, it remains questionable if senile individuals lived longer because of an increased consumption of animal proteins or if older individuals had a higher social status in the community. For the comparison of age classes, it should be kept in mind that the determination of the age-at-death was based on morphological features on the skulls. Especially for adult and older individuals, this might have led to some uncertainties that could have influenced the statistical analysis.
Manuring is also a possibility that has to be considered with regard to variations in stable nitrogen values between different burial sites Bogaard et al. Human diets with a high component of manured grain lead to elevated nitrogen values and could therefore also be interpreted as a diet with a high amount of animal protein. This has to be considered for the Iron Age as there manuring practices were found in prehistory as well Guttmann et al. This could indicate minor changes in vegetation and crops which is possible due to climate changes during the Iron Age in central Europe.
Due to postponed effect of climate on the glacier, a time lag of a few decades can be assumed.
Warmer climate probably would have led to increased growth of C 4 plants such as millet which prefer warmer ecosystems Ehleringer et al. Some grave goods such as weapons, meat and gold finger rings were only given to adult and older males. No significant differences between the individuals with and those without grave goods were obtained. Nevertheless, in 18 male burials, items of weaponry were found, particularly swords in 12 male burials but also lances and shields Jud Weapons, especially swords, are usually considered to be prestige grave goods and a symbol for a higher status Linderholm et al.
Meat as a possible prestige grave good was probably given exclusively to males as it was only found within male graves Jud This individual was buried with weapons and meat. He might have played a special role in the society, and it is possible that he had privileges due to a high status. Oelze et al. They also showed a different diet than the other individuals in the tumulus. Furthermore, it has to be mentioned that isotopic variations in Europe are not only caused by cultural, biological and environmental factors but probably also correspond to regional differences in climate Van Klinken and Hedges For this reason, comparisons of stable isotope values from different regions in Europe have to be carried out carefully.
There might have been a gender restriction in the access to food, especially animal proteins.
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The data also indicate a tendency towards a different diet of adults and seniles, with the diet of the latter probably containing more animal protein. A possible explanation could be a climate change during the occupancy time of the cemetery LTA to LTC that caused a change in vegetation. They also showed a different diet than the other individuals in the tumulus.
Furthermore, it has to be mentioned that isotopic variations in Europe are not only caused by cultural, biological and environmental factors but probably also correspond to regional differences in climate Van Klinken and Hedges For this reason, comparisons of stable isotope values from different regions in Europe have to be carried out carefully. There might have been a gender restriction in the access to food, especially animal proteins. The data also indicate a tendency towards a different diet of adults and seniles, with the diet of the latter probably containing more animal protein.
A possible explanation could be a climate change during the occupancy time of the cemetery LTA to LTC that caused a change in vegetation.
No differences between the individuals with grave goods and those without could be observed. We are very grateful for the helpful comments of the reviewers. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author s and the source are credited. Skip to main content Skip to sections.
Advertisement Hide. Download PDF. Open Access. First Online: 14 December Introduction The area surrounding Bern—north of the Alps and in the middle of the Swiss Plateau—provides the largest amount of skeletal material from the Late Iron Age throughout Switzerland. It was excavated in and first published by Jakob Wiedmer-Stern The skeletal remains lay mostly supine and extended, without male, female or subadult groupings within the cemetery.
In Fig. Further work on the chronology was conducted by the British archaeologist Frank R. Hodson with emphasis on the types of fibulae. Open image in new window. Several studies on Iron Age human bones have been conducted, e. Table 1 Isotope data from human bones in Iron Age Europe. Morphologic-anthropological investigation A morphologic-anthropological description of the bones was provided in a catalogue Hug Due to methods that were developed in the last decades, the human remains were reinvestigated for this study. Table 2 Definition of the age classes. SD standard deviation.
The infant I and II age groups were excluded by testing only males and females. Table 4 Results of statistical tests. LTB vs. For the LTB period, no infants were available for analysis. Table 5 Numbers of individuals assigned to the different time phases. Entire population—differences in sex and age For a comparison of male and female data, the infant I and II age groups were excluded. This leads to the suggestion that there might have been gender restrictions in the access to animal proteins meat and dairy products and that males consumed more animal proteins.
These differences in diet could be related to a gender-specific division of labour in which males were responsible for meat preparation. Even though there are statistically significant differences between males and females, it must be kept in mind that these differences are small Fig. This female with a sulphur value of 4. Investigations of strontium and oxygen isotope ratios by Scheeres et al.
For a better comparison, their data are used as individual numbers grave numbers were used in the original publication. They analysed tooth enamel of 38 individuals for strontium isotope ratios and 34 individuals for oxygen isotope ratios. This is in accordance with the result for individual A60 in this study. Unfortunately, the possibly immigrated individuals A62, A65, A70, A88 and A in this study were not analysed by Scheeres et al.
The authors suggest that five individuals A43, A60, A67, A85 and A were not local due to the strontium and oxygen isotope values.