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Keywords:

  • strontium;
  • oxygen;
  • sulfur;
  • carbon;
  • nitrogen

Abstract

For the Early Iron Age western Hallstatt culture, which includes the site of Magdalenenberg in southwest Germany, it has been proposed that people were mobile and maintained far reaching social and trading networks throughout Europe. We tested this hypothesis by analyzing multiple isotopes (strontium, oxygen, sulfur, carbon, and nitrogen) of the preserved skeletons from the Magdalenenberg elite cemetery to determine diets and to look for evidence of mobility. The analysis of carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur isotope ratios in collagen of humans (n = 50) and associated domestic fauna (n = 10) indicates a terrestrial-based diet. There was a heterogeneous range of isotope values in both strontium (0.70725 to 0.71923, n = 76) and oxygen (13.4‰ to 18.5‰, n = 78) measured in tooth enamel. Although many of the individuals had values consistent with being from Hallstatt culture sites within southwest Germany, some individuals likely originated from further afield. Possible areas include the Alps of Switzerland and Austria or even locations in Italy. Our study strongly supports the assumption of far reaching social and economic networks in the western Hallstatt culture. Am J Phys Anthropol 148:406–421, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.