Preference for fish in a Neolithic hunter-gatherer community of the upper Tigris, elucidated by amino acid δ15N analysis

Publication date: June 2017Source:Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 82
Author(s): Yu Itahashi, Yutaka Miyake, Osamu Maeda, Osamu Kondo, Hitomi Hongo, Wim Van Neer, Yoshito Chikaraishi, Naohiko Ohkouchi, Minoru Yoneda
We report here the stable nitrogen isotope composition (δ15N) of individual amino acids and the δ15N and δ13C content of collagen from human and faunal remains collected from Hasankeyf Höyük, an early Neolithic site in the upper Tigris valley. Based on the δ15N of collagen only, the contributions of freshwater resources to the diet of the hunter-gatherers were difficult to clearly identify relative to terrestrial resources. However, analysis of the nitrogen isotope composition of individual amino acids enabled the identification of minor contributions from freshwater resources to the diet in a community primarily dependent on terrestrial resources. Individual variability suggested that some individuals at Hasankeyf Höyük used freshwater resources, whereas others probably depended primarily on terrestrial food resources. The importance of freshwater resources as food for this hunter-gatherer community was variable among groups and depended on burial location and time of burial.