Stable isotopes and dietary adaptations in humans and animals at pre-pottery Neolithic Nevallı Çori, southeast Anatolia

Authors

  • Sandra Lösch,

    1. Department of Biology I, Biodiversitätsforschung/Anthropologie, Biozentrum, University of Munich, 82152 Martinsried, Germany
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  • Gisela Grupe,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biology I, Biodiversitätsforschung/Anthropologie, Biozentrum, University of Munich, 82152 Martinsried, Germany
    2. Bavarian State Collection of Anthropology and Palaeoanatomy, 80333 Munich, Germany
    • Department of Biology I, Biodiversitätsforschung/Anthropologie, Biozentrum, University of Munich, Grosshaderner Str. 2, 82152 Martinsried, Germany
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  • Joris Peters

    1. Bavarian State Collection of Anthropology and Palaeoanatomy, 80333 Munich, Germany
    2. Institut für Paläoanatomie und Geschichte der Tiermedizin, University of Munich, 80539 Munich, Germany
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Abstract

Human and animal bones from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B site of Nevalı Çori (southeast Anatolia) were analyzed with regard to stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes in bone collagen, and stable carbon and oxygen isotopes in bone carbonate. The reconstruction of the vertebrate food web at this site revealed that humans may have faced difficulties with meat procurement, since their stable-isotope ratios reflect a largely herbivorous diet. This is in contrast with the preceding Pre-Pottery Neolithic A contexts and late Neolithic sites in the Fertile Crescent, where humans are located at the top of the food chain. Conceivably, Nevalı Çori represents a community in the transition from a hunting and gathering subsistence to an economy with agriculture and animal husbandry, since domesticated einkorn and sheep, pigs, and probably also goats are in evidence at the site. In the second half of the 9th millennium calibrated (cal.) BC, however, the contribution of stock on the hoof to the human diet still seems modest. Animals kept under cultural control obviously had a dietary spectrum different from their free-ranging relatives. We conclude that these animals had been deliberately nourished by their owners, whereby the overall low δ15N-signatures in both humans and livestock might result from the consumption of protein-rich pulses. Am J Phys Anthropol 131:181–193, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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