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Storing fish?: a dog’s isotopic biography provides insight into Iron Age food preservation strategies in the Russian Arctic

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posted on 2021-03-17, 11:02 authored by Robert J Losey, Eric Guiry, Tatiana Nomokonova, Andrei V Gusev, Paul Szpak
Analysis of individual animal bodies can provide numerous useful insights in archeology, including how humans provisioned such animals, which in turn informs on a variety of other past behaviors such as human dietary patterns. In this study, we conducted stable carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) isotope analysis of collagen and keratin from four types of tissues from a dog burial at the Ust’-Polui site in the Iamal region of Arctic Russia. Ust’-Polui is an Iron Age site located on the Lower Ob River, a major northern fishery characterized by extreme seasonal shifts in fish presence. During a 6-month period stretching over the coldest months of the year, fish are nearly entirely absent in the Lower Ob River. Despite this, the stable isotope compositions of the dog’s bone and dentine collagen and hair and nail keratin all indicate a monotonous diet focusing on local fish. This pattern indicates the dog was provisioned year-round with fish. This was likely accomplished by mass harvesting of fish using nets or traps. Such fish were then processed and frozen for consumption during the non-fishing season. These findings suggest that people in the Ust’-Polui region also relied to some extent on fish throughout the year. Stored fish likely provided a dietary buffer for uneven returns from reindeer and bird hunting, both of which also are well-evidenced at the site.

History

Citation

Archaeol Anthropol Sci 12, 200 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-020-01166-3

Author affiliation

School of Archaeology and Ancient History

Version

  • VoR (Version of Record)

Published in

Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

Volume

12

Issue

8

Publisher

Springer Science and Business Media LLC

issn

1866-9557

eissn

1866-9565

Acceptance date

2020-07-16

Copyright date

2020

Available date

2021-03-17

Language

en

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