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Dietary changes and millet consumption in northern France at the end of Prehistory: evidence from archaeobotanical and stable isotope data.

Abstract : Diachronic changes of dietary human habits between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age are mainly identified through archaeological artefacts and archaeozoological and archaeobotanical studies. This paper aims to demonstrate the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach for palaeodietary studies and to identify the food changes between Neolithic and Bronze Age human groups in northern France. These changes are probably linked to the introduction of new crops, such as millet, and the use of stable isotope analysis on bones and teeth proves to be an effective method for assessing the role of this specific cereal in the diet and the economy. Stable isotope analyses were performed on bone and tooth collagen and apatite from eight humans and five domestic animals from a Late Bronze Age site (LBA; Barbuise; 15th–13th c. BC; Aube). The studied corpus is compared with isotopic data from human and animal bones from a nearby Neolithic site (Gurgy; 5th mill. BC; Yonne) and regional Neolithic to Iron sites located in northern France. Moreover, Barbuise data are supplemented by information from an important archaeobotanical study carried out on 21 LBA and Early Iron Age sites in the region. Neolithic and LBA human collagen isotopic ratios (δ13C, δ15N) differ statistically, as do those of some animals. Carbon isotopic ratios of human apatite corroborate collagen results indicating the consumption of 13C enriched food by LBA humans and animals compared to Neolithic samples. The high number of occurrences of plant remains in the Bronze Age settlements near the site points to the consumption of C4 plants, such as millet, and would account for these results.
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Gwenaëlle Goude, Léonie Rey, Françoise Toulemonde, Mathilde Cervel, Stéphane Rottier. Dietary changes and millet consumption in northern France at the end of Prehistory: evidence from archaeobotanical and stable isotope data.. Environmental Archaeology, Taylor & Francis, 2017, 22 (3), pp.268-282. ⟨10.1080/14614103.2016.1215799⟩. ⟨hal-01650950⟩

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