First paper of ANCIENT_TEETH project!

Hi! I’m super happy to share with you the first paper from the MSCA-IF project ANCIENT_TEETH published in PlosONE journal.

Food, cooking and meals are often seen today as a key aspect of ethnicity and sense of identity, held fast to as part of people’s beliefs about ancestry, belonging and culture. This study investigates dietary changes of people who lived in the Great Hungarian Plain from the Early Neolithic (6,000-5,500 BC) to Early Iron Age (~900 BC) by employing stable isotope analysis.

Figure 1
Fig 1. Map showing the location of sites analysed in the study. Generic Mapping Tools 4.5.13 (Wessel and Smith, 1998) and the topographic ETOPO data set (Amante and Eakins, 2009)  was used to create this map. In: Gamarra B, et al. (2018) 5000 years of dietary variations of prehistoric farmers in the Great Hungarian Plain. PLoS ONE 13(5): e0197214.

During this 5000 years transect, several migrations occurred in the area leading changes in past populations genomes as shown by ancient DNA analyses, coinciding with periods of cultural shifts and, more specifically, with the advent of the Bronze Age and Iron Age periods. With this in mind, we wondered if those migratory events led to changes in the dietary habits of the people who lived in the Great Hungarian Plain.

The stable isotope results obtained suggest that people who were part of the Neolithic and Copper Age cultures consumed practically the same dietary resources based on C3 plants and cereals (such as barley and wheat) and domesticated animals raised on them. The exception to this common pattern was the people who lived in one particular site, Tiszaszőlős-Domahàza. Although the remains suggest that this particular site was associated to the Early Neolithic Köros culture, they had a close genetic ancestry with Mesolithic European hunter-gatherers probably as a recent admixture between Neolithic farmers and indigenous hunter-gatherers. The isotope results obtained in this study suggests that they continued practicing the same dietary subsistence patterns as their ancestors, with a diet based on freshwater resources.

By contrast, the people who were associated both genetically and culturally speaking to the Bronze Age did not changed their dietary habits until a few centuries after, by the Late Bronze Age (~1,400 BC), with the introduction of millet as a regular crop, maybe associated with trading practices with people consuming it. Millet crop was largely consumed during the 2nd millennia in Central Europe, nevertheless this is the first time that millet consumption is reported in Hungary during Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age times.

Fig 4. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope data of human and faunal bone collagen from the GHP. Both human and fauna isotopic data are represented by mean isotopic values (standard deviation ±1σ indicated by bars). Domesticated and wild fauna belongs to Early/Middle Neolithic and Copper Age periods, and combined with published data [22,25,42,76]. Human results from this study were also combined with previous published data in the GHP [22,25,76]. E. Neolithic* represent mean values of Körös Tiszaszőlős-Domaháza site. In: Gamarra B, et al. (2018) 5000 years of dietary variations of prehistoric farmers in the Great Hungarian Plain. PLoS ONE 13(5): e0197214.
The data reported in the study also suggest that the use of manure for fertilizing the crops was practiced earlier than other researchers suggested in the Hungarian Plain.

Do you want to read more? Here is the paper were you can read more about the study.

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