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  Re-evaluating Scythian lifeways: Isotopic analysis of diet and mobility in Iron Age Ukraine

Ventresca Miller, A. R., Johnson, J., Makhortykh, S., Gerling, C., Litvinova, L., Andrukh, S., et al. (2021). Re-evaluating Scythian lifeways: Isotopic analysis of diet and mobility in Iron Age Ukraine. PLoS One, 16(3): e0245996, pp. 1-25. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0245996.

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 Creators:
Ventresca Miller, Alicia R.1, Author              
Johnson, James, Author
Makhortykh, Sergey, Author
Gerling, Claudia, Author
Litvinova, Ludmilla, Author
Andrukh, Svetlana, Author
Toschev, Gennady, Author
Zech, Jana, Author
le Roux, Petrus, Author
Makarewicz, Cheryl, Author
Boivin, Nicole1, Author              
Roberts, Patrick1, Author              
Affiliations:
1Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society, ou_2074312              

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Free keywords: Teeth, Diet, Isotope analysis, Geology, Cenozoic era, Strontium, Millet, Radioactive carbon dating
 Abstract: The Scythians are frequently presented, in popular and academic thought alike, as highly mobile warrior nomads who posed a great economic risk to growing Mediterranean empires from the Iron Age into the Classical period. Archaeological studies provide evidence of first millennium BCE urbanism in the steppe while historical texts reference steppe agriculture, challenging traditional characterizations of Scythians as nomads. However, there have been few direct studies of the diet and mobility of populations living in the Pontic steppe and forest-steppe during the Scythian era. Here, we analyse strontium, oxygen, and carbon isotope data from human tooth enamel samples, as well as nitrogen and carbon isotope data of bone collagen, at several Iron Age sites across Ukraine commonly associated with ‘Scythian’ era communities. Our multi-isotopic approach demonstrates generally low levels of human mobility in the vicinity of urban locales, where populations engaged in agro-pastoralism focused primarily on millet agriculture. Some individuals show evidence for long-distance mobility, likely associated with significant inter-regional connections. We argue that this pattern supports economic diversity of urban locales and complex trading networks, rather than a homogeneous nomadic population.

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Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2021-03-10
 Publication Status: Published online
 Pages: 25
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: Introduction
Materials and methods
- Cultural background
- Radiocarbon dating
- Bioarchaeological methods
- Sampling for isotope analysis
- Strontium isotope ratios of ancient humans
- Geologic substrates and strontium isotope ratio estimation
- Stable oxygen and carbon isotope values of ancient humans
- Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope values of human bone collagen
- Modern environmental and isotopic landscapes for carbon and oxygen isotope data
- Statistical analysis
Results
- Individual mobility at Scythian cemeteries
- Chronological variation in human mobility
- Range of diets among Scythian era populations
- Faunal and plant isotope references to understand human diet
Discussion
- Mobility strategies among Scythian era populations
- Scythian diets: A complex Iron Age steppe
Conclusions
 Rev. Type: Peer
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0245996
Other: shh2873
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Title: PLoS One
Source Genre: Journal
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Publ. Info: San Francisco, CA : Public Library of Science
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 16 (3) Sequence Number: e0245996 Start / End Page: 1 - 25 Identifier: ISSN: 1932-6203
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/1000000000277850