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Ref ID: 30159
Ref Type: Journal Article
Authors: Bogaard, A.
Heaton, T. H. E.
Poulton, P.
Merbach, I.
Title: The impact of manuring on nitrogen isotope ratios in cereals: archaeological implications for reconstruction of diet and crop management practices
Date: 2006
Source: Journal of Archaeological Science
Abstract: Recent archaeological studies of human diet have used stable nitrogen isotope ratios (d15N) from human bone collagen to infer the relative importance of terrestrial plant and animal foods. This approach is based on widely observed enrichment of d15N up the food chain, plants having distinctly lower values than the herbivores that consume them. Studies of early farming diets in Britain, Denmark and Germany have tended to detect relatively high d15N values (e.g. c. รพ9&), interpreted as evidence of a diet largely based on animal products, though archaeobotanical evidence for crop cultivation (e.g. carbonised cereal grain and chaff) is widespread. This paper investigates the impact of manuring on d15N values in modern cereals, and of charring on these cereal values. The results from two long-term experiments demonstrate that manuring significantly raises d15N in cereal grain and chaff. Depending on manuring levels and frequency, it appears that human diets with a major component of such grain would conventionally be interpreted as indicating a largely animal-based diet or a mixed plant/animal diet. Moreover, preliminary analyses of experimentally charred grain and chaff from manured and unmanured conditions are promising for the extraction of reliable ancient d15N values from archaeobotanical cereal remains. The wider implications of these results, and the need for further work, are discussed.
Date Created: 1/4/2007
Volume: 34
Number: 3
Page Start: 335
Page End: 343