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Landscape opening and herding strategies: carbon isotope analyses of herbivore bone collagen from the Neolithic and Bronze Age lakeshore site of Zurich-Mozartstrasse, Switzerland

Landscape opening and herding strategies: carbon isotope analyses of herbivore bone collagen from the Neolithic and Bronze Age lakeshore site of Zurich-Mozartstrasse, Switzerland
Landscape opening and herding strategies: carbon isotope analyses of herbivore bone collagen from the Neolithic and Bronze Age lakeshore site of Zurich-Mozartstrasse, Switzerland
Carbon isotope analysis (?13C) was performed on collagen extracted from 54 domestic cattle (Bos taurus) and 20 red deer (Cervus elaphus) bones from the Neolithic (3913–2586 BC) and Bronze Age (1950–950 cal. BC) layers of the lakeshore site Zurich-Mozartstrasse located in the lower Lake Zurich basin, Switzerland. We observed shifts in the ?13C of both domestic cattle and red deer over two millennia. Mean ?13C values of red deer changed from ?24.1 ± 0.7‰ to ?22.5 ± 0.3‰, while mean ?13C values of domestic cattle showed minor changes from ?22.7 ± 1.3‰ to ?22.1 ± 0.3‰. Our data suggest that in the early 4th millennium BC the landscape was densely forested with red deer feeding in closed habitats and cattle grazing in more open landscapes. Forest was also a food resource for some young cattle as indicated by the lower ?13C values of non-adult relative to adult animals. This points to a greater diversity of herding strategies and feeding techniques compared to the later periods. The landscape was still rather forested towards the mid-3rd millennium BC, with no obvious changes in the habitat use of the large herbivores. However, the carbon isotopes suggest a clearly reduced forest cover in the 2nd millennium BC with red deer using similar open feeding grounds as domestic cattle. Our study demonstrates that the stable carbon isotope composition of archeological bone material from large herbivores can provide integrative constraints on paleoenvironmental and vegetation changes, prehistoric animal management and land-use.
1040-6182
1-11
Doppler, Thomas
198efb77-ad2b-42c8-8c6f-09978debd24d
Gerling, Claudia
030d4e84-d101-4936-a24e-2e539ecd96a4
Heyd, Volker
61da9ae3-f4ef-4b78-bd1c-66bacc852b79
Knipper, Corina
167e37d5-a5db-4fb4-b390-cc7d3249b31c
Kuhn, Thomas
0a5d4c6e-bfa5-4af3-b627-90a9613cc6b1
Lehmann, Moritz F.
9ec30496-6d95-4cc0-85e1-b051cf156159
Pike, A.W.G.
e8603e20-0a89-4d57-a294-247b983fc857
Schibler, Jörg
6267680f-eae9-416b-b922-688a9ad5babb
Doppler, Thomas
198efb77-ad2b-42c8-8c6f-09978debd24d
Gerling, Claudia
030d4e84-d101-4936-a24e-2e539ecd96a4
Heyd, Volker
61da9ae3-f4ef-4b78-bd1c-66bacc852b79
Knipper, Corina
167e37d5-a5db-4fb4-b390-cc7d3249b31c
Kuhn, Thomas
0a5d4c6e-bfa5-4af3-b627-90a9613cc6b1
Lehmann, Moritz F.
9ec30496-6d95-4cc0-85e1-b051cf156159
Pike, A.W.G.
e8603e20-0a89-4d57-a294-247b983fc857
Schibler, Jörg
6267680f-eae9-416b-b922-688a9ad5babb

Doppler, Thomas, Gerling, Claudia, Heyd, Volker, Knipper, Corina, Kuhn, Thomas, Lehmann, Moritz F., Pike, A.W.G. and Schibler, Jörg (2015) Landscape opening and herding strategies: carbon isotope analyses of herbivore bone collagen from the Neolithic and Bronze Age lakeshore site of Zurich-Mozartstrasse, Switzerland. Quaternary International, 1-11. (doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2015.09.007).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Carbon isotope analysis (?13C) was performed on collagen extracted from 54 domestic cattle (Bos taurus) and 20 red deer (Cervus elaphus) bones from the Neolithic (3913–2586 BC) and Bronze Age (1950–950 cal. BC) layers of the lakeshore site Zurich-Mozartstrasse located in the lower Lake Zurich basin, Switzerland. We observed shifts in the ?13C of both domestic cattle and red deer over two millennia. Mean ?13C values of red deer changed from ?24.1 ± 0.7‰ to ?22.5 ± 0.3‰, while mean ?13C values of domestic cattle showed minor changes from ?22.7 ± 1.3‰ to ?22.1 ± 0.3‰. Our data suggest that in the early 4th millennium BC the landscape was densely forested with red deer feeding in closed habitats and cattle grazing in more open landscapes. Forest was also a food resource for some young cattle as indicated by the lower ?13C values of non-adult relative to adult animals. This points to a greater diversity of herding strategies and feeding techniques compared to the later periods. The landscape was still rather forested towards the mid-3rd millennium BC, with no obvious changes in the habitat use of the large herbivores. However, the carbon isotopes suggest a clearly reduced forest cover in the 2nd millennium BC with red deer using similar open feeding grounds as domestic cattle. Our study demonstrates that the stable carbon isotope composition of archeological bone material from large herbivores can provide integrative constraints on paleoenvironmental and vegetation changes, prehistoric animal management and land-use.

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e-pub ahead of print date: 1 October 2015
Organisations: Archaeology

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Local EPrints ID: 389574
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/389574
ISSN: 1040-6182
PURE UUID: 9b4aa28e-0b5c-4aa2-8ef2-eb9f6f62c8e5
ORCID for A.W.G. Pike: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-5610-8948

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Date deposited: 09 Mar 2016 11:44
Last modified: 10 Sep 2019 00:36

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Contributors

Author: Thomas Doppler
Author: Claudia Gerling
Author: Volker Heyd
Author: Corina Knipper
Author: Thomas Kuhn
Author: Moritz F. Lehmann
Author: A.W.G. Pike ORCID iD
Author: Jörg Schibler

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