Human palaeodiet at Zamostje 2, central Russia: Results of radiocarbon and stable isotope analyses

John Meadows*, Olga Lozovskaya, Manon Bondetti, Dorothee G. Drucker, Vyacheslav Moiseyev

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Only 21 human remains have been identified at Zamostje 2, despite extraordinarily good conditions for organic preservation, and the recovery of thousands of animal bones from layers dating from the Late Mesolithic to the Middle Neolithic (c.6500–4000 cal BC). Almost all the human remains are fragments of the cranium, maxilla, mandible, which are potentially reworked from earlier depositions, uphill or upstream of Zamostje 2, or isolated teeth. Disregarding naturally shed deciduous teeth, these remains have been attributed to between 5 and 14 individuals, ranging in age from 6 to 7 years to mature adult. We report AMS radiocarbon (14C) dating and dietary stable isotopes, δ13C and δ15N, for all the human bones, and δ13C and δ15N values from 63 prehistoric animal bones from Zamostje 2, including 18 fish and 7 dogs. Using the faunal isotope data, we construct isotope signatures for different food groups, which we use to interpret the human δ13C and δ15N values. Based on 14C ages and dietary stable isotopes, we propose that the human bones represent 10–12 individuals, most of whom date to the Late Mesolithic occupation at Zamostje 2; one is somewhat earlier in the Mesolithic, one (probably from the nearby site, Zamostje 1) may date to the Middle Neolithic, and two (one from Zamostje 1, one unprovenanced) date to the Late Neolithic or Eneolithic. The earliest and latest individuals may have obtained most of their dietary protein intake from fish, but Late Mesolithic individuals probably had more mixed diets. Palaeodiet reconstruction is complicated by unusual δ13C and δ15N values for local fish in the Late Mesolithic, which are reflected in δ13C and δ15N values from dogs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-103
Number of pages15
JournalQuaternary International
Publication statusPublished - 10-Mar-2020


  • Radiocarbon
  • Dietary stable isotopes
  • Mesolithic
  • Human remains
  • Fauna
  • Flora
  • AGE
  • DIET

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