Increasing Mobility at the Neolithic/Bronze Age Transition - sulphur isotope evidence from Öland, Sweden

Anna Linderholm1,3, Elin Fornander1,4, Gunilla Eriksson*1, Carl-Magnus Mörth2 and Kerstin Lidén 1,5

1. Archaeological Research Laboratory, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden. *Corresponding author:
2. Department of Geological Sciences, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
3. Department of Archaeology, University of Durham, Durham, DH1 3L, United Kingdom
4. Stiftelsen Kulturmiljövård, Stora Gatan 41, SE-722 12 Västerås, Sweden
5. Department of Archaeology and Social Anthropology, Breiviklia, University of Tromsø, NO-9037 Tromsø, Norway

Cite this as: Linderholm, A. et al. (2014). Increasing Mobility at the Neolithic/Bronze Age Transition - sulphur isotope evidence from Öland, Sweden. 'Human Exploitation of Aquatic Landscapes' special issue (ed. Ricardo Fernandes and John Meadows), Internet Archaeology 37.


Composite image - map of study area and timeline

The objective of this investigation is to look at the use of various aquatic, in this case marine, resources in relation to mobility during the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods. On the island of Öland, in the Baltic Sea, different archaeological cultures are represented in the form of material culture and skeletal remains at three sites. We have analysed δ34S values in human remains representing 36 individuals, as well as faunal remains. We investigated intra-individual patterns of mobility from childhood to adulthood, primarily focusing on a passage grave. Taking into account previously published dietary data that demonstrate a wide range of dietary practices involving aquatic resources, we applied a model to estimate the contribution of δ34S from terrestrial protein, to separate mobility from dietary changes, thereby identifying individuals who changed residence, as well as individuals with non-local origins. Evidence of mobility could be demonstrated at two sites. For the third site the consistently marine diet inhibits inferences on mobility based on δ34S analysis. Chronologically, the frequency of non-locals was highest during the Bronze Age, when the diet was very uniform and based on terrestrial resources.

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