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Diet and mobility in a late neolithic population of coastal oman inferred from radiocarbon dating and stable isotope analysis

Authors

  • Antoine Zazzo,

    Corresponding author
    1. CNRS UMR 7209, Archéozoologie, Archéobotanique: sociétés, pratiques et environnements, Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, Dép. EGB, CP56, Paris, France
    • Correspondence to: Antoine Zazzo, CNRS UMR 7209, MNHN, Dép. EGB, CP56, 55 rue Buffon, F-75005 Paris, France. E-mail: zazzo@mnhn.fr

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  • Olivia Munoz,

    1. CNRS UMR 7041 ArScAn, Maison de l'Archéologie et de l'Ethnologie, 21 allée de l'Université, F-92023 Nanterre Cedex, France
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  • Jean-François Saliège

    1. CNRS UMR 7209, Archéozoologie, Archéobotanique: sociétés, pratiques et environnements, Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, Dép. EGB, CP56, Paris, France
    2. CNRS UMR 7041 ArScAn, Maison de l'Archéologie et de l'Ethnologie, 21 allée de l'Université, F-92023 Nanterre Cedex, France
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    • deceased


ABSTRACT

In Oman, the presence of highly productive marine environments, coupled with relatively limited land resources, have led to intense exploitation of coastal resources, but the question of the seasonality of occupation of coastal sites remains open. Our aim is to evaluate the contribution of marine resources to the diet of the Neolithic population of Ra's al-Hamra 5 (RH-5) to shed new light on its mobility, using stable isotopes and radiocarbon (14C) dating as dietary tracers. Charcoal, shell, human bone and enamel apatite from eight contemporary graves were sampled. Graves are thought to provide the best chance to obtain marine and terrestrial remains that were contemporary with the human remains in order to calculate the marine reservoir effect (MRE) for this period. Inter-individual variation in human bone apatite δ13C value is small, suggesting a homogenous diet. Bone apatite 14C ages are very close to the shell ages while enamel is significantly younger and plots near the charcoal ages. Older enamel ages were obtained when a stronger acetic treatment was used, demonstrating that the young ages are due to diagenetic alteration rather than a diachronic change in diet and that only bone apatite retained in vivo dietary signals. Bone ages indicate a heavy reliance on marine resources and it is therefore unlikely that the individuals analyzed here were leaving the coast seasonally, although mobility along the coast cannot be excluded. Am J Phys Anthropol 153:353–364, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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