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Monumental cemeteries of the Paris Basin Region - stable isotope evidence (C, N, and S) for early social stratification in Middle Neolithic France

Abstract : The Cerny Culture (4900 to 3500 B.C.) is a middle Neolithic culture in France that is particularly prevalent in the Paris Basin area. This culture is crucial in understanding the shift from simple settlements to more complex societies in France, as reflected by the shift from single inhumations to more complex cemeteries. There are also evidence suggesting that the practice of building monumental graves in Neolithic Europe could have started in Paris Basin. Thus, an examination of the social dynamics within the Cerny groups will have important implications on understanding the transformation of social organization in Neolithic Europe. In this paper, we compare the palaeodietary practices of individuals buried in monumental cemeteries with those buried in flat graves. We measure the bone collagen stable carbon (δ13C), nitrogen (δ15N), and sulfur (δ34S) isotope values of human (n=69) and fauna (n=21) remains from two Cerny sites, Balloy and Vignely, and compare them with previously published human data from two nearby contemporary necropoli: Gurgy “Les Noisats” (n=91) and Chichery “Sur les Pâtureaux” (n=8). Our results reveal interesting inter- and intra-site differences among these different Cerny groups. One particular noteworthy observation is that individuals buried in “monumental” graves appeared to have relatively depleted δ15N values than those buried in flat graves (t(168)=3.1911, p=0.0017), thus suggesting the two burial types also reflect differences in terms of subsistence economy. By combining stable isotopic data with other archaeological evidence, our study has offered novel perspectives on the lifeways and complex social organization of the Cerny people, and thus provided a unique glimpse into the social dynamics of middle Neolithic Paris Basin region.
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Contributor : Aline Thomas <>
Submitted on : Thursday, April 23, 2020 - 5:42:39 PM
Last modification on : Friday, June 12, 2020 - 5:38:06 PM

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Christina Cheung, Estelle Herrscher, Aline Thomas. Monumental cemeteries of the Paris Basin Region - stable isotope evidence (C, N, and S) for early social stratification in Middle Neolithic France. 1845e Journées de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris, 29-31 Janvier 2020, 2020, Aix-en-Provence, France. ⟨mnhn-02552674⟩

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