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Ancient DNA, lipid biomarkers and palaeoecological evidence reveals construction and life on early medieval lake settlements

Ancient DNA, lipid biomarkers and palaeoecological evidence reveals construction and life on early medieval lake settlements
Ancient DNA, lipid biomarkers and palaeoecological evidence reveals construction and life on early medieval lake settlements

Direct evidence of ancient human occupation is typically established through archaeological excavation. Excavations are costly and destructive, and practically impossible in some lake and wetland environments. We present here an alternative approach, providing direct evidence from lake sediments using DNA metabarcoding, steroid lipid biomarkers (bile acids) and from traditional environmental analyses. Applied to an early Medieval Celtic settlement in Ireland (a crannog) this approach provides a site chronology and direct evidence of human occupation, crops, animal farming and on-site slaughtering. This is the first independently-dated, continuous molecular archive of human activity from an archeological site, demonstrating a link between animal husbandry, food resources, island use. These sites are under threat but are impossible to preserve in-situ so this approach can be used, with or without excavation, to produce a robust and full site chronology and provide direct evidence of occupation, the use of plants and animals, and activities such as butchery.

2045-2322
Brown, Antony
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Van Hardenbroek van ammerstol, Maarten R
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Fonville, Thierry
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Davies, Kimberley
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Mackay, Helen
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Murray, Emily
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Head, Katie
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Barratt, Phil
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McCormick, Fraser
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Ficetola, GF
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Gielly, L
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Henderson, Andy
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Crone, Anne
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Cavers, Graeme
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Langdon, Peter
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Whitehouse, Nicki
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Pirrie, Duncan
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Alsos, Inger
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Brown, Antony
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Van Hardenbroek van ammerstol, Maarten R
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Fonville, Thierry
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Davies, Kimberley
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Mackay, Helen
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Murray, Emily
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Head, Katie
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Barratt, Phil
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McCormick, Fraser
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Ficetola, GF
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Gielly, L
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Henderson, Andy
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Crone, Anne
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Cavers, Graeme
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Langdon, Peter
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Whitehouse, Nicki
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Pirrie, Duncan
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Alsos, Inger
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Brown, Antony, Van Hardenbroek van ammerstol, Maarten R, Fonville, Thierry, Davies, Kimberley, Mackay, Helen, Murray, Emily, Head, Katie, Barratt, Phil, McCormick, Fraser, Ficetola, GF, Gielly, L, Henderson, Andy, Crone, Anne, Cavers, Graeme, Langdon, Peter, Whitehouse, Nicki, Pirrie, Duncan and Alsos, Inger (2021) Ancient DNA, lipid biomarkers and palaeoecological evidence reveals construction and life on early medieval lake settlements. Scientific Reports, 11 (1), [11807]. (doi:10.1038/s41598-021-91057-x).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Direct evidence of ancient human occupation is typically established through archaeological excavation. Excavations are costly and destructive, and practically impossible in some lake and wetland environments. We present here an alternative approach, providing direct evidence from lake sediments using DNA metabarcoding, steroid lipid biomarkers (bile acids) and from traditional environmental analyses. Applied to an early Medieval Celtic settlement in Ireland (a crannog) this approach provides a site chronology and direct evidence of human occupation, crops, animal farming and on-site slaughtering. This is the first independently-dated, continuous molecular archive of human activity from an archeological site, demonstrating a link between animal husbandry, food resources, island use. These sites are under threat but are impossible to preserve in-situ so this approach can be used, with or without excavation, to produce a robust and full site chronology and provide direct evidence of occupation, the use of plants and animals, and activities such as butchery.

Text
s41598-021-91057-x - Version of Record
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e-pub ahead of print date: 3 June 2021
Additional Information: Funding Information: We thank Peter Heintzman and Youri Lammers for laboratory and bioinformatics assistance and Ludovic Gielly for laboratory work at Grenoble. The core through the southern crannog (FER 211:064) was granted by the Northern Ireland Environment and Heritage Service under Licence Number AE/16/18. This research was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council of the UK (Grant no. AH/M005259/1) with additional logistic support from the Department of Communities, Northern Ireland and the landowner Lord Belmore. Publisher Copyright: © 2021, The Author(s). Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 450318
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/450318
ISSN: 2045-2322
PURE UUID: a0078cf8-bdde-4ebf-a217-892345cc76be
ORCID for Antony Brown: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-1990-4654
ORCID for Peter Langdon: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-2724-2643

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Date deposited: 22 Jul 2021 16:31
Last modified: 26 Nov 2021 02:51

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Contributors

Author: Antony Brown ORCID iD
Author: Maarten R Van Hardenbroek van ammerstol
Author: Thierry Fonville
Author: Kimberley Davies
Author: Helen Mackay
Author: Emily Murray
Author: Katie Head
Author: Phil Barratt
Author: Fraser McCormick
Author: GF Ficetola
Author: L Gielly
Author: Andy Henderson
Author: Anne Crone
Author: Graeme Cavers
Author: Peter Langdon ORCID iD
Author: Nicki Whitehouse
Author: Duncan Pirrie
Author: Inger Alsos

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