Possible Wild Boar Management during the Ertebølle Period. A Carbon and Nitrogen Isotope Analysis of Mesolithic Wild Boar from Fannerup F, Denmark

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This paper presents a stable isotope and radiocarbon study on a total of 85 samples of wild boar (Sus scrofa), humans (Homo sapiens), dogs (Canis familiaris), red deer (Cervus elaphus) and roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) from four Late Mesolithic sites in Jutland, Denmark. Four of the eight Sus scrofa samples from one site, the shell midden of Fannerup F, show markedly enriched carbon and nitrogen isotope values, indicating a dietary intake of a substantial amount of marine food. In contrast to standard interpretations of Late Mesolithic animal economy, we suggest that the enriched values of Sus scrofa may be an indication of management by Ertebølle groups in the area that facilitated access to substantial amounts of marine foods for these wild boars compared to contemporaneous conspecifics. The 14C dates of the Sus scrofa range from 5290 to 4335 cal BC, suggesting that the management of Sus scrofa developed independently of contact with Neolithic societies. Although the sample size remains small, the interpretation of Late Mesolithic animal management adds to the growing evidence for political and economic complexity in the Ertebølle culture.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Archaeology
Pages (from-to)15-27
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2019

    Research areas

  • domestication, Ertebølle culture, niche construction, stable isotope analysis, Sus scrofa

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