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Keywords:

  • BRONZE AGE;
  • MOBILITY;
  • STABLE ISOTOPES;
  • STRONTIUM;
  • OXYGEN;
  • SULPHUR

The Early Bronze Age necropolis of Singen (Hohentwiel), located near Lake Constance, represents a population from a period of technological transition in southwestern Germany. The site contains several graves with metal artefacts that originated in other parts of Central and Western Europe, and therefore these could be interpreted as being the graves of non-local individuals. The purpose of this study was to investigate this possibility through the application of isotopic analysis. The ratios of strontium and oxygen isotopes in human enamel reflect the geological origin of food and drinking water consumed during enamel formation in early life stages. Additionally, the ratio of sulphur isotopes from bone collagen reflects the origin of foods consumed during the last 10–20 years of life of an adult individual. We used these three isotope systems to attempt to identify local and non-local individuals at the site. We found that the isotope ratios of Sr, O and S of the humans were relatively homogeneous and generally correspond to the isotope signature of the local geology, climate and environment. We conclude that the sampled population is of local origin and does not show patterns of individual mobility, even though there is evidence for long-distance trade and exchange of the metal artefacts at this site.