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Between Life and Death: stable isotopes and their reflection in funerary practice at the early Neolithic cemetery Mulhouse-Est, Alsace

Entre la vie et la mort : les isotopes stables et leur reflet dans les pratiques funéraires du cimetière du Néolithique ancien de Mulhouse-Est, Alsace
Bronwen Kennedy, Karina Gerdau-Radonic, Penny Bickle, Oliver Craig, Matthew Von Tersch, Rose-Marie Arbogast, Philippe Lefranc, Anthony Denaire, Christian Jeunesse, Fanny Chenal et Yasmine Mechadi

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1Building on previous research, this study reports new stable dietary isotope results in conjunction with existing samples from the individuals buried at Mulhouse-Est. This was an early Neolithic cemetery located in Alsace and consisted of 24 articulated burials in addition to disarticulated remains, belonging to the Linearbandkeramik (LBK) culture. The main research question explored whether the diet thus reconstructed varies with burial practices, such as the presence or absence of specific grave goods. Stable isotope analysis of δ13C and δ15N isotopes revealed a mainly terrestrial diet, including C3 plants, but diversity was identified. Enriched δ15N values indicated the potential inclusion of freshwater fish in the diet. These values were found to be significantly higher than those in other LBK burials in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. Another variation identified was the depletion of non-adult δ13C values and whilst not statistically significant, it was found to be unique to Mulhouse-Est. The comparison of dietary diversity to the presence or absence of grave goods revealed no statistically significant differences, though individuals in secondary burial positions often had less enriched isotope values. Even a comparison of the ‘richest’ graves, according to their grave goods and isotope values revealed little variation. Therefore, if perceived social status was a cause of the variation in grave goods, this did not directly translate to differences in diet. The results hold significance for our understanding of diversity in early Neolithic cultures, which are often assumed to have avoided fish, and for interpretations of social hierarchy at the start of farming.

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Bronwen Kennedy, Karina Gerdau-Radonic, Penny Bickle, Oliver Craig, Matthew Von Tersch, Rose-Marie Arbogast, Philippe Lefranc, Anthony Denaire, Christian Jeunesse, Fanny Chenal et Yasmine Mechadi, « Between Life and Death: stable isotopes and their reflection in funerary practice at the early Neolithic cemetery Mulhouse-Est, Alsace »Bulletins et mémoires de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris [En ligne], 36(S) | 2024, mis en ligne le 22 décembre 2023, consulté le 21 février 2024. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/bmsap/12966 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/bmsap.12966

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Auteurs

Bronwen Kennedy

Department of Archaeology, University of York, York, England ; bronwen.kennedy[at]alumni.york.ac.uk

Karina Gerdau-Radonic

Archimède UMR 7044, CNRS, Université de Haute Alsace Mulhouse, Université de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France

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Penny Bickle

Department of Archaeology, University of York, York, England

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Oliver Craig

Department of Archaeology, University of York, York, England

Matthew Von Tersch

Department of Archaeology, University of York, York, England

Rose-Marie Arbogast

Archimède UMR 7044, CNRS, Université de Haute Alsace Mulhouse, Université de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France

Philippe Lefranc

Archimède UMR 7044, CNRS, Université de Haute Alsace Mulhouse, Université de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France

Anthony Denaire

UMR 6298 ARTeHIS, Université de Bourgogne, CNRS, Ministère de la Culture, Dijon, France

Christian Jeunesse

Archimède UMR 7044, CNRS, Université de Haute Alsace Mulhouse, Université de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France

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Fanny Chenal

Inrap Grand Est, Strasbourg, France

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Yasmine Mechadi

Inrap Grand Est, Strasbourg, France

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Le texte seul est utilisable sous licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Les autres éléments (illustrations, fichiers annexes importés) sont « Tous droits réservés », sauf mention contraire.

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