(ORDO NEWS) — Bioarchaeologists studied the diet of 11 people from the El Collado burial site, who lived 9500-8500 years ago. It turned out that most of them ate a significant amount of fish and, probably, shellfish.
Previously, it was assumed that the economy of these people was mainly focused on the extraction of food from terrestrial sources.
Not far from the coast of the Gulf of Valencia is one of the most interesting monuments of the Mesolithic era on the Iberian Peninsula – El Collado. In 1987-1988, archaeologists carried out security and rescue excavations of this object, which has been known since the beginning of the 20th century.
On an area of about 143 square meters, they found 14 graves, which contained the remains of 15 people (in one of the burials, in addition to the skeleton, there was the skull of a second individual).
In addition to burials, the researchers found numerous stone artifacts, as well as the remains of terrestrial and marine fauna.
Anthropologists have determined that the graves appear to have contained the remains of four women and nine men. The sex of two more people (a teenager and a baby) could not be established.
Examination of photographs and excavation plans showed that nine individuals were buried in a crouched position. Perhaps this is the result of being placed in a grave in some kind of shroud or bound.
The age of the majority of the deceased was from 20 to 30 years, only in four cases they were older. Direct radiocarbon analysis of the remains showed that these people lived from 8500 to 9500 years ago.
To do this, they turned to the analysis of the isotopic composition of amino acids from bone collagen isolated from the remains of 11 individuals.
For comparison, they also analyzed the bones of terrestrial herbivores and fish found at this site, as well as in Nerja Cave, located in the province of Malaga.
As a result of the study, scientists found that water resources played a more important role in the nutrition of these people than previously thought.
The diet of most of the individuals for whom data were available included a significant amount of fish caught in freshwater and/or brackish waters, such as sea bream (Sparus aurata).
At the same time, the diet of the studied people was not the same. Thus, one of the individuals, judging by the isotopes of carbon and nitrogen, ate products of terrestrial origin and occupied a low trophic level.
Scientists estimate that the four people from El Collado got up to 80 percent of their protein from fish and shellfish. Moreover, only in the diet of two individuals, the proportion of these products was insignificant.
At the same time, it was previously assumed that the hunter-gatherers who inhabited the Western Mediterranean in the early Holocene mainly fed on the meat of terrestrial mammals and plant foods.
Marine fish and shellfish were considered only as additional resources.
Recently on N + 1 they talked about a study of the diet of the medieval inhabitants of the Norwegian city of Bergen.
So, judging by the isotopes of carbon and nitrogen, their diet was very diverse. For example, three men consumed a significant amount of food obtained from the sea.
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