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Early Holocene Scandinavian foragers on a journey to affluence : Mesolithic fish exploitation, seasonal abundance and storage investigated through strontium isotope ratios by laser ablation

Boethius, Adam LU ; Kjällquist, Mathilda ; Kielman-Schmitt, Melanie ; Ahlström, Torbjörn LU and Larsson, Lars LU (2021) In PLoS ONE 16(1).
Abstract
At Norje Sunnansund, an Early Holocene settlement in southern Sweden, the world’s earliest evidence of fermentation has been interpreted as a method of managing long-term and large-scale food surplus. While an advanced fishery is suggested by the number of recovered fish bones, until now it has not been possible to identify the origin of the fish, or whether and how their seasonal migration was exploited. We analysed strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr) in 16 cyprinid and 8 pike teeth, which were recovered at the site, both from within the fermentation pit and from different areas outside of it, by using laser ablation multi-collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Our investigation indicates three different regions of... (More)
At Norje Sunnansund, an Early Holocene settlement in southern Sweden, the world’s earliest evidence of fermentation has been interpreted as a method of managing long-term and large-scale food surplus. While an advanced fishery is suggested by the number of recovered fish bones, until now it has not been possible to identify the origin of the fish, or whether and how their seasonal migration was exploited. We analysed strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr) in 16 cyprinid and 8 pike teeth, which were recovered at the site, both from within the fermentation pit and from different areas outside of it, by using laser ablation multi-collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Our investigation indicates three different regions of origin for the fish at the site. We find that the most commonly fermented fish, cyprinids (roach), were caught in the autumn during their seasonal migration from the Baltic Sea to the sheltered stream and lake next to the site. This is in contrast to the cyprinids from other areas of the site, which were caught when migrating from nearby estuaries and the Baltic Sea coast during late spring. The pikes from the fermentation pit were caught in the autumn as by-catch to the mainly targeted roach while moving from the nearby Baltic Sea coast. Lastly, the pikes from outside the fermentation pit were likely caught as they migrated from nearby waters in sedimentary bedrock areas to the south of the site, to spawn in early spring. Combined, these data suggest an advanced fishery with the ability to combine optimal use of seasonal fish abundance at different times of the year. Our results offer insights into the practice of delayed-return consumption patterns, provide a more complete view of the storage system used, and increase our understanding of Early Holocene sedentism among northern hunter-fisher-gatherers. By applying advanced strontium isotope analyses to archaeological material integrated into an ecological setting, we present a methodology that can be used elsewhere to enhance our understanding of the otherwise elusive indications of storage practices and fish exploitation patterns among ancient foraging societies. (Less)
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organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
PLoS ONE
volume
16
issue
1
pages
29 pages
publisher
Public Library of Science
external identifiers
  • pmid:33471822
  • scopus:85100107178
ISSN
1932-6203
DOI
10.1371/journal.pone.0245222
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
8d3c6756-f422-406c-b738-417309a82b89
date added to LUP
2021-02-03 12:51:26
date last changed
2021-04-19 04:03:37
@article{8d3c6756-f422-406c-b738-417309a82b89,
  abstract     = {At Norje Sunnansund, an Early Holocene settlement in southern Sweden, the world’s earliest evidence of fermentation has been interpreted as a method of managing long-term and large-scale food surplus. While an advanced fishery is suggested by the number of recovered fish bones, until now it has not been possible to identify the origin of the fish, or whether and how their seasonal migration was exploited. We analysed strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr) in 16 cyprinid and 8 pike teeth, which were recovered at the site, both from within the fermentation pit and from different areas outside of it, by using laser ablation multi-collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Our investigation indicates three different regions of origin for the fish at the site. We find that the most commonly fermented fish, cyprinids (roach), were caught in the autumn during their seasonal migration from the Baltic Sea to the sheltered stream and lake next to the site. This is in contrast to the cyprinids from other areas of the site, which were caught when migrating from nearby estuaries and the Baltic Sea coast during late spring. The pikes from the fermentation pit were caught in the autumn as by-catch to the mainly targeted roach while moving from the nearby Baltic Sea coast. Lastly, the pikes from outside the fermentation pit were likely caught as they migrated from nearby waters in sedimentary bedrock areas to the south of the site, to spawn in early spring. Combined, these data suggest an advanced fishery with the ability to combine optimal use of seasonal fish abundance at different times of the year. Our results offer insights into the practice of delayed-return consumption patterns, provide a more complete view of the storage system used, and increase our understanding of Early Holocene sedentism among northern hunter-fisher-gatherers. By applying advanced strontium isotope analyses to archaeological material integrated into an ecological setting, we present a methodology that can be used elsewhere to enhance our understanding of the otherwise elusive indications of storage practices and fish exploitation patterns among ancient foraging societies.},
  author       = {Boethius, Adam and Kjällquist, Mathilda and Kielman-Schmitt, Melanie and Ahlström, Torbjörn and Larsson, Lars},
  issn         = {1932-6203},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {01},
  number       = {1},
  publisher    = {Public Library of Science},
  series       = {PLoS ONE},
  title        = {Early Holocene Scandinavian foragers on a journey to affluence : Mesolithic fish exploitation, seasonal abundance and storage investigated through strontium isotope ratios by laser ablation},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0245222},
  doi          = {10.1371/journal.pone.0245222},
  volume       = {16},
  year         = {2021},
}