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Keywords:

  • central Mediterranean;
  • archaeological succession;
  • land snail shells;
  • stable isotopes;
  • palaeoclimate

Abstract

This paper compares stable isotope (δ18O and δ13C) records of early–middle Holocene land snail shells from the archaeological deposits of Grotta di Latronico 3 (LTR3; southern Italy) with modern shell isotopic data. No substantial interspecific variability was observed in shell δ18O (δ18Os) of modern specimens (Pomatias elegans, Cornu aspersum, Eobania vermiculata, Helix ligata and Marmorana fuscolabiata). In contrast, interspecific shell δ13C (δ13Cs) variability was significant, probably due to different feeding behaviour among species. The δ18Os values of living land snails suggest that species hibernate for a long period during colder months, so that the signal of 18O-depleted winter rainfall in their δ18Os is lost. This suggests that δ18Os and δ13Cs values of Pomatias elegans from this archaeological succession provide valuable clues for seasonal (spring–autumn) climatic conditions during the early–middle Holocene. The δ18Os values of fossil specimens are significantly lower than in modern shells and in agreement with other palaeoclimatic records, suggesting a substantial increase of precipitation and/or persistent changes in air mass source trajectories over this region between ca. 8.8 cal ka BP and 6.2–6.7 ka ago. The δ13Cs trend suggests a transition from a slightly 13C-enriched to a 13C-depleted diet between early and middle Holocene compared to present conditions. We postulate that this δ13Cs trend might reflect changes in the C3 vegetation community, potentially combined with other environmental factors such as regional moisture increase and the progressive decrease of atmospheric CO2 concentration. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.