Dentin isotopic reconstruction of individual life histories reveals millet consumption during weaning and childhood at the Late Neolithic (4500 bp) Gaoshan site in southwestern China

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  • Bing Yi, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology Chinese Academy of Sciences, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • ,
  • Xiangyu Liu, Chengdu Municipal Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology
  • ,
  • Haibing Yuan, Sichuan University
  • ,
  • Zhiqing Zhou, Chengdu Municipal Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology
  • ,
  • Jian Chen, Chengdu Municipal Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology
  • ,
  • Tingting Wang, Sun Yat-Sen University
  • ,
  • Yajuan Wang, Sichuan University
  • ,
  • Yaowu Hu, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology Chinese Academy of Sciences, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • ,
  • Benjamin T. Fuller, Beijing University

Here, we present results of a pilot project that measured δ13C and δ15N values in bone collagen (ribs and femora) as well as dentin serial sections to examine individual dietary life histories at a Late Neolithic (4500 bp) site known as Gaoshan Ancient City (高山古城) located on the Chengdu Plain in Sichuan Province, China. The isotopic data of the bones indicate that humans consumed C3-based foods, which corresponds to the dominance of rice agriculture in this region. However, the isotopic data of the dentin serial sections of five individuals display much more positive δ13C values than those of the bones, strongly suggesting that millets (a C4 crop) contributed substantially to human diets during the weaning process and early childhood. Furthermore, the isotopic profiles of dentin sections of the first molars and canines demonstrate that the cession of weaning was individually variable and completed between ~2.5 and 4 years of age. Although limited in scope, this pilot study offers new evidence of millet consumption during human growth and development even though individuals relied on rice exclusively as adults. Moreover, our study provides another perspective with which to rethink the role that millets played during the development and spread of millet agriculture to the south of China in terms of cultural exchange and migration.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftInternational Journal of Osteoarchaeology
Vol/bind28
Nummer6
Sider (fra-til)636-644
Antal sider9
ISSN1047-482X
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 1 nov. 2018

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