The extent of cereal cultivation among the Bronze Age to Turkic period societies of Kazakhstan determined using stable isotope analysis ofbone collagen

G. Motuzaite Matuzeviciute*, E. Lightfoot, T. C. O'Connell, D. Voyakin, X. Liu, V. Loman, S. Svyatko, E. Usmanova, M. K. Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

48 Citations (Scopus)
52 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This paper explores the contribution of plant foods to the diet of presumed pastoral societies in Kazakhstan. Carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analysis, together with radiocarbon dating, was carried out on human and animal bones from 25 Chalcolithic, Bronze Age, Early Iron Age, Hunic and Turkic sites across Kazakhstan. We use these data to examine dietary differences across time and space within and between populations.Our results show that at the Bronze Age sites of mountainous southern Kazakhstan people consumed C4 plants, likely domesticated millets (Panicum miliaceum and Setaria italica) as supported by previously published archaeobotanical direct evidence. By dating individuals with high δ13C values we find the earliest evidence to date of the consumption of large quantities of millet in Central Asia. By contrast, there is little input of C4 plants to diets of individuals dating to the Bronze Age from northern Kazakhstan. Stable isotope data from later periods show that from the Early Iron Age and continuing through to the Turkic period, C4 plants were a major component of the human food web across the region. The wide variety of stable isotope results, both within and between contemporary sites from the southern regions of Kazakhstan, indicates a diversity of food choice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-34
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Volume59
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2015

Keywords

  • Bronze Age
  • C
  • Central Asia
  • Millet
  • Pastoralism
  • Steppe agriculture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology

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