Isotope Analysis and Middle and Upper Palaeolithic Hunting in Germany

The behaviour of large herbivores has long played a major role in shaping the lifeways of those hominin groups who hunted them. While a vast body of research exists on the subsistence strategies of Middle and Upper Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers in Europe, there is a critical lack of direct evidence for the palaeoecology of key prey-species at a local level, or on timescales applicable to those of human activity. This research project seeks to address that gap through the application of stable isotope analysis to faunal remains from archaeological sites.

This involves multiple stable isotope analysis (δ13C, δ18O and 87Sr/86Sr) of sequentially sampled large herbivore tooth enamel to reconstruct diet, range and migration patterns of different species in Germany. Analysis of sequentially sampled enamel provides higher resolution data at sub-annual timescales relating directly to the period of human activity at a site. This data is then used to gain deeper insight into the subsistence behaviour of the hominins that exploited these animals, contributing to ongoing debates around hominin adaptive flexibility in the context of Late Pleistocene in western Europe and beyond.

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