Stable Isotope Dietary Analysis of Prehistoric Populations from the Minusinsk Basin, Southern Siberia, Russia: A new chronological framework for the introduction of millet to the eastern Eurasian steppe

Svetlana V. Svyatko, Rick J. Schulting, James Mallory, Eileen M. Murphy, Paula J. Reimer, Valeriy I Khartanovich, Yury K. Chistov, Mikhail V. Sablin

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64 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We report the results of stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of 354 human and faunal samples from five archaeological cultures of the Minusinsk Basin, Southern Siberia – Afanasyevo, Okunevo, Andronovo, Karasuk and Tagar (ca. 2700–1 BC) – a key location in Eurasia due to its position on a northern corridor linking China and central Eurasia. The results indicate that the diet of Eneolithic to Middle Bronze Age (Afanasyevo to Andronovo) populations was primarily C3-based, with C4 plants only becoming an important component of the diet in the Late Bronze Age Karasuk and Early Iron Age Tagar cultures. Freshwater fish seems to have been an important constituent of the diets in all groups. The findings constitute the earliest concrete evidence for the substantial use of millet in the eastern Eurasian steppe. We propose that it was probably introduced from Northwestern China during the Karasuk culture at the start of the Late Bronze Age, ca. 1500 BC. We conclude with a discussion of the implications for the nature of pastoralist economies on the steppes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3936-3945
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Volume40
Issue number11
Early online date20 May 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013

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