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Reconstructed Paleodiets and Subsistence Strategies of the Central Ciscaucasian Population (1000 BC to 1000 AD), Based on Collagen Isotope Analysis of Bone Samples from the Kichmalka II Burial Ground

https://doi.org/10.17746/1563-0110.2021.49.4.080-090

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Abstract

Settlement and economy patterns of the Iron Age and early medieval population of the Central North Caucasus evidence complex cultural processes in the region. The ecological approach including the evaluation of carbon and nitrogen isotopes in the local biota opens up new prospects in the study of environments, climate, anthropogenic effect, land use, and nutrition. We analyze the isotopic composition of collagen in 19 human and 11 animal bone samples from Kichmalka II—a cemetery successively used by the Koban people, those of the Sarmatian stage, and Alans. The isotopic composition of the Alanian sample indicates a heavy predominance of plants with the C3-type photosynthesis in the diet of humans and animals. People who lived during the Koban and Sarmatian stages consumed also C4-plants, such as common millet (Panicum miliaceum), suggesting the rise of the trophic step for carbon (Δδ13Chuman-animal). Statistically signifi cant differences in the isotopic composition of carbon were found within the Koban population, apparently evidencing two dietary models. The Δδ15Nhuman-animal values fall within the trophic step, mirroring a focus on meat and dairy products in the diet of all groups. Comparison with respective data on the Klin-Yar III cemetery revealed differences in isotopic signatures in the diet of both humans and domestic animals during the Koban period. The possible reason is climatic change in the Iron Age and the variable share of millet in the diet of the Koban people. The low proportion of δ15N (below 4 ‰) in the bone collagen of goat, sheep, and horse of the Alanian period may attest to vertical transhumance.

About the Authors

A. N. Babenko
Institute of Archaeology, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

Ulyanova 19, Moscow, 117292



M. V. Dobrovolskaya
Institute of Archaeology, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

Ulyanova 19, Moscow, 117292



E. E. Vasilyeva
State Hermitage Museum
Russian Federation

Dvortsovaya nab. 34, St. Petersburg, 191181



D. S. Korobov
Institute of Archaeology, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

Ulyanova 19, Moscow, 117292



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For citation:


Babenko A.N., Dobrovolskaya M.V., Vasilyeva E.E., Korobov D.S. Reconstructed Paleodiets and Subsistence Strategies of the Central Ciscaucasian Population (1000 BC to 1000 AD), Based on Collagen Isotope Analysis of Bone Samples from the Kichmalka II Burial Ground. Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia. 2021;49(4):80-90. https://doi.org/10.17746/1563-0110.2021.49.4.080-090

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ISSN 1563-0110 (Print)