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Fringes of the empire: diet and cultural change at the Roman to post-Roman transition in NW Iberia

López-Costas, O. and Muldner, G. (2016) Fringes of the empire: diet and cultural change at the Roman to post-Roman transition in NW Iberia. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. ISSN 1096-8644

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.23016

Abstract/Summary

A growing number of paleodiet investigations over recent years have begun to reveal the stark dietary differences that existed between regions of the Roman Empire, as well as significant changes in subsistence strategies after its fall. The present study explores the dietary changes at the Roman to post-Roman (Germanic) transition in the Northwest Iberian Peninsula, in order to improve our understanding of the changes that occurred at end of the Roman Empire in different regions across Europe and to also consider the influence of climate had on them. The carbon and nitrogen stable isotope investigation in bone collagen from A Lanzada, NW Spain (100–700 AD), which was an important commercial, coastal settlement has been presented. A human sample of 59 individuals, 6 of them subadults, is compared with 31 faunal specimens, which include a number of marine fish. Isotope data for the terrestrial fauna reveal the influence of the sea on the local isotope baseline. Analysis of the human samples indicates a mixed marine-terrestrial diet. A shift in mean human δ13C values from −16.7‰ to −14.3‰ provides clear evidence for a significant change in diet in the post-Roman period, probably through the intensification of both marine resources exploitation and C4-plant consumption (presumably millet). A deterioration of paleoenvironmental conditions, together with a poor socioeconomic situation and the arrival of new people, the Sueves, who brought a new political and socioeconomic system have been discussed as the main causes for the dietary modification in post-Roman times.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Scientific Archaeology
Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
ID Code:66226
Uncontrolled Keywords:migration period millet paleodiet saltmarsh influence stable isotopes
Publisher:Wiley

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