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Stable Isotope Analysis of Human and Animal Remains at the Qijiaping Site in Middle Gansu, China

Authors

  • M. Ma,

    1. Key Laboratory of Western China's Environmental Systems (Ministry of Education), Research School of Arid Environment and Climate Change, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, Gansu Province, China
    2. Institute for the History of Natural Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
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  • G. Dong,

    Corresponding author
    1. Key Laboratory of Western China's Environmental Systems (Ministry of Education), Research School of Arid Environment and Climate Change, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, Gansu Province, China
    • Correspondence to: Guanghui Dong, Key Laboratory of Western China's Environmental Systems (Ministry of Education), Research School of Arid Environment and Climate Change, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, Gansu Province, 730000, China.

      e-mail: ghdong@lzu.edu.cn

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  • X. Liu,

    1. McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
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  • E. Lightfoot,

    1. McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
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  • F. Chen,

    1. Key Laboratory of Western China's Environmental Systems (Ministry of Education), Research School of Arid Environment and Climate Change, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, Gansu Province, China
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  • H. Wang,

    1. Gansu Province Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeological Research, Lanzhou, China
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  • H. Li,

    1. Key Laboratory of Western China's Environmental Systems (Ministry of Education), Research School of Arid Environment and Climate Change, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, Gansu Province, China
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  • M. K. Jones

    1. McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
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Abstract

Intercontinental exchanges between communities living in different parts of Eurasia during the late prehistoric period have become increasingly popular as a topic of archaeological research. The Qijia culture, found in northwest China, is one of the key archaeological cultures that can shed light on trans-Eurasian exchange because a variety of imports are found in this cultural context. These imports include new cereals and animals, which suggest that human diets may also have changed compared with previous periods. To understand human and animal diets of the Qijia culture, carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios from human and animal skeletal remains were analysed from the type site of the Qijia culture at Qijiaping. The results demonstrate that human diet at the site mainly consisted of millet and animals fed on millet. C3 cereals, such as wheat and barley, did not contribute significantly to human diet, and no isotopic differences were found between adult and subadult diets. Furthermore, three outlying human results raise the possibility of exogenous individuals, perhaps in relation to the parallel movement of animals, crops and goods. This study provides human and animal dietary information for evaluating the nature of exchange and diffusion in eastern Eurasia at this time. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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