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Factors influencing the radiocarbon dating of human skeletal remains from the Dnieper River system: Archaeological and stable isotope evidence of diet from the Epipaleolithic to Eneolithic periods

Lillie, Malcolm; Henderson, Rowena; Budd, Chelsea; Potekhina, Inna


Malcolm Lillie

Chelsea Budd

Rowena Henderson

Inna Potekhina


Recent research has identified the existence of a freshwater reservoir effect influencing the radiocarbon dating of human skeletal remains from the Dnieper region of Ukraine (Lillie et al. 2009). The current study outlines the evidence for freshwater resource exploitation throughout the period ~10,200–3700 cal BC, and presents the available evidence for the existence of dietary offsets in the ¹⁴C dates obtained. We have obtained human skeletal material from 54 Epipaleolithic to Mesolithic period individuals and 267 Neolithic to Eneolithic individuals, from 13 cemeteries, since our research in Ukraine began in 1992. Here, we present the initial results of stable isotope analysis of Eneolithic individuals from the Igren VIII cemetery alongside the Epipaleolithic to Eneolithic samples that have previously been analyzed. When contrasted against the evidence from the prehistoric fauna and fish remains studied, and modern fish species from the Dnieper region, we continue to see variability in diets at the population level, both internally and across cemeteries. We also observed temporal variability in human diets across these chronological periods. The fish samples (both archaeological and modern) show a wide range of isotope ratios for both δ¹³C and δ¹⁵N, which could prove significant when interpreting the dietary sources being exploited. This information directly informs the ¹⁴C dating program as an inherent degree of complexity is introduced into the dating of individuals whose diets combine freshwater and terrestrial sources in differing quantities and at differing temporal and/or spatial scales (e.g. Bronk Ramsey et al. 2014)

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Dec 1, 2016
Journal Radiocarbon
Print ISSN 0033-8222
Electronic ISSN 1945-5755
Publisher Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 58
Issue 4
Pages 741-753
Keywords Freshwater reservoir effect; Diet; Cemeteries; Dnieper Rapids
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement ©2017 University of Hull
Additional Information Authors' accepted manuscript of article published in:: Radiocarbon, 2016, v.58, issue 4


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