FURTHER PARTICULARS Diversification and Sustainability in Ancient Coastal Communities: The Role of Marine Resources PROJECT DESCRIPTION The doctoral research project is part of a wider project motivated by key questions that exist relating to importance of marine resources in the human diet in prehistory, particularly at the early Neolithic on the Atlantic seaboard of northern Europe, and the evolution of marine resource exploitation in later periods. The studentship will be focused on developing a more holistic understanding of marine resource exploitation through a holistic approach to osteological remains; fully exploring both direct (e.g. stable isotopes) and indirect (through modelling of exploitation strategies) evidence to explore the level, intensity and diversity of marine resource exploitation in prehistory. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES Our overall objective will be to apply the aforementioned biomarkers to investigate the processing of marine commodities in archaeological pottery. Our overall hypothesis is that the exploitation of marine products by prehistoric humans will be detectable at higher sensitivity and selectivity through lipid biomarkers preserved in archaeological pottery than through the bulk stable carbon and nitrogen isotope signatures preserved in human bone collagen. In addition, where marine food consumption is high the acids will provide further criteria for assessing marine resource processing in pottery vessels. The specific aims of the research programme are to: (i) Further investigate the production of novel marine marker compounds in pottery vessels via the processing/heating of foods, marine oils and pure compounds in pottery vessels. (ii) Implement high resolution gas chromatography/mass spectrometry protocols for the ultra sensitive and selective detection of marine lipid proxies in archaeological pottery. (iii) Investigate the compound-specific classifiers marine fats in archaeological pottery. (iv) in archaeological pottery. (v) Apply the proxies developed and validated in (i) to (iv) to the detection of marine product processing in pottery vessels from early Neolithic and later sites on the coast and inland of the continental mainland of Europe and adjacent islands. (vi) Correlate the results from the biomarker analyses with the results of investigations of faunal, human and other archaeological finds performed as part of the complementary PhD Project Studentship. The identification and characterisation of marine constituents of organic residues in pottery would allow the recognition of societies with a continued reliance upon marine resources in post-Mesolithic prehistory. This in turn would facilitate an exploration of the relationship and possible tensions between coastal and non-coastal communities, the latter of which may have chosen a fully-domesticated terrestrial subsistence strategy. At present, the role of the sea in post-Mesolithic communities in terms of food, non-dietary resources, transport and trade remains undefined and the application of these new organic residue approaches would contribute significantly towards an understanding of our long-lived relationship with aquatic resources. BACKGROUND TO THE PROJECT Marine fish, shellfish and aquatic mammals were extensively exploited by our ancestors for tens of thousands of years and remain an important resource for many populations today. However, finding evidence for the consumption of marine resources by prehistoric populations can prove extremely problematic due to the taphonomic bias against the survival and recovery of remains. Although shell middens are often very visible in the archaeological record, fish bones are small and fragile and easily missed during excavation unless systematic sieving is undertaken (Tauber, 1981). Furthermore, the processing of larger mammals and shellfish may have taken place at the site of procurement, leaving few (if any) visible traces amongst artefacts recovered from settlement areas (Bird & Bliege Bird, 1997). Indirect archaeological evidence for the hunting, fishing or gathering of marine fauna (such as hooks, harpoons and net-weights) is, moreover, relatively unusual. Thus far, it appears likely that an absence of archaeological evidence does not necessarily imply a lack of marine exploitation at many archaeological sites, and therefore other means must be sought in order to detect the contribution of marine resources in prehistory. In recent years, the most widely-used approach to this problem has been to address it through the isotopic analysis of human bone collagen, as enriched δ13C and δ15N values have been shown to correlate with an increased marine contribution relative to terrestrial consumers (Tauber, 1981; Chisholm et al., 1982; Schoeninger & de Niro, 1984; Ambrose et al. 1997; Mays, 1997; Richards & Hedges, 1999; Eriksson, 2004; Corr et al., 2005). Many datasets from European coastal and inland sites have shown an apparent discontinuation in the consumption of marine foods with the onset of the Neolithic (Tauber, 1981; Lubell et al., 1994; Schulting & Richards, 2001; Richards et al., 2003). This has led to a widespread assumption that the Neolithic period began with a rapid and complete transition to terrestrial, domesticated species of fauna and flora, with corresponding implications for organizational and social behaviour inferred from the somewhat counter-intuitive rejection of an obvious and nutritious food resource at coastal sites (Richards, 2003). A more likely scenario is that with the onset of the Neolithic marine food consumption continued, albeit at a reduced level (Fischer et al., 2007). The latter interpretation is supported by archaeological evidence, including shell middens, fish bones and fish traps, which suggest continued marine exploitation into the early Neolithic at coastal sites on the Atlantic coast (Milner et al. 2004). This inconsistency may in part be due to the relatively small numbers of skeletons which have been analysed isotopically, combined with a possible bias towards those remains which tend to survive and be recovered (Milner et al. 2004). Other factors that might skew interpretations based upon bulk collagen isotopic techniques include the insensitivity of the approach towards the non-protein component of the diet, such that the dietary contribution of marine fats and oils (such as blubber and fish oils) could be vastly under-represented. Sporadic or seasonal consumption of marine products may be masked by the slow remodelling of bone collagen and integrated into its longer-term signal, thus becoming difficult to detect. Studies have also shown that a diet low in protein results in the assimilation of lipid and carbohydrate carbon into bone collagen, rather than the direct routing of dietary protein carbon (Ambrose & Norr, 1993; Tieszen & Farge, 1993; Fogel & Tuross, 2003). Therefore, estimates now suggest that amongst populations consuming a predominantly carbohydrate-based diet, as much as a 20% contribution of marine protein to the overall diet could be isotopically undetectable in human bone collagen (Hedges, 2004). Hence, the archaeological and isotopic evidence for the detection and quantification of a marine component in ancient diets can be problematic to interpret and reconcile and both lines of evidence can include inherent biases against the detection of marine exploitation. These problems in reconstructing past subsistence strategies create difficulties in unravelling how populations interacted with their environment which will have been an important stimulus for, or response to, organizational, technological and social change. If we are to develop a more thorough and sophisticated understanding of how prehistoric populations chose to exploit or manage the resources available to them, it is necessary to incorporate techniques more sensitive to detecting the marine component of the diet. References Abelson PH & Hoering TC 1961 Proc Nat Acad Sci;4:623; Ackman RG & Hooper SN 1968 Comp. Biochem Physiol 24:549; Aillaud S 2000 PhD thesis, University of Bristol; Ambrose SH & Norr L 1993 In JB Lambert & G Grupe (eds.), Prehistoric human bone: archaeology at the molecular level. Springer Verlag:121; Ambrose SH et al. 1997 Amer J Phys Anthropol 104(3):343; Bird DW & Bliege Bird R 1997 J Archaeol Sci 24:39; Bland HA 1999 PhD Thesis, University of Bristol; Chisholm BS et al. (1982) Science 216:1131; Cobabe EA & Pratt LM 1995 Geochim Cosmochim Acta 59:87; Copley et al (2003) PNAS 100: 1524; Copley MS et al. (2005a) J Archaeol Sci 32:485; Copley MS et al. 2005b J Archaeol Sci 32:505; Copley MS et al. (2005c) J Archaeol Sci 32:523; Copley MS et al. 2005d Analyst 130:860; Copley MS et al. 2005e Antiquity 79:895; Copley MS et al. 2004 S Afr J Sci 100 (5/6):279; Corr LT et al. 2005 J Archaeol Sci 32:321; Corr et al. 2007 RCM 21: 3759; Corr et al. in press Anal Chem; Craig OE et al. 2007 Archaeometry 49:135; Docherty G et al. 2001. Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom 15:730; Dudd SN 1999 PhD Thesis, University of Bristol; Dudd SN & Evershed RP 1998 Science 282:1478; Eriksson G 2004 J Anthropol Archaeol 23:135; Evershed RP et al. Archaeometry (in press); Evershed RP et al. 1992 Proc Brit Acad 77:187; Evershed RP et al. 2001 Acc Chem Res 35:660; Evershed RP et al. 1999 Phil Trans Roy Soc 354:19; Evershed RP & Tuross N 1996 J Archaeol Sci 23:429; Fantle MS et al. 1999 Oecologia 120:416; Fischer et al. 2007 J Archaeol Sci 34:2125; Fogel ML & Tuross N 2003 J Archaeol Sci 30:535; Fogel ML et al. 1997 Org Geochem 27:275; Guitart R et al. 1999 Comp Biochem Physiol B 124:439; Hansel FA et al. 2004 Tetrahedron Lett 45:2999; Hare PE & Estep MLF 1983 Carnegie Institution Washington Yearbook 82:410; Hare PE et al. 1991 J Archaeol Sci 18:277; Hedges REM 2004 Antiquity 78:34; Howland MR 2003 PhD thesis, University of Bristol; Howland MR et al. 2003 Int. J. Osteoarchaeol 13:54; Jim S et al. 2006 British Journal of Nutrition 95:1055; Jim S et al. 2003 Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom 17:2283; Jones V 2002 Ph.D Thesis. University of Bristol; Keil RG & Fogel ML 2001 Limnol Oceanogr 46:14; Lubell D et al. 1994 J Archaeol Sci 21:201; Matikainen J et al. 2003 Tetrahedron 59:567; Mays SA 1997 J Archaeol Sci 24:561; Michael WR 1966 Lipids 1:353; Michael WR 1996 Lipids 1:359; Milner N et al. 2004 Antiquity 78:9; Mukherjee AJ et al. 2007 Antiquity 81:743; Passi S et al. 2002 J Ag Food Chem 50:7314; Raven AM et al. 1997 J Anal Appl Pyrol 40/41:267; Regert M et al. 1998 Proc Royal Society of London B 265:2027; Richards MP & Hedges REM 1999 Antiquity 73:891; Richards MP 2003 In M. Parker Pearson (ed.) Oxford: British Archaeological Reports International Series 117:31 Richards MP et al. 2003 Nature 425:36; Rossell JB 1991 In J.B. Rossell & J.L.R. Pritchard (eds.), Analysis of oilseeds, fats and fatty foods. London: Elsevier Applied Science:261; Schoeninger MJ & De Niro MJ 1984 Geochim Cosmochim Acta 48:625; Schulting RJ & Richards MP 2001 In R Young (ed.) Current Research on the Mesolithic of Britain and Ireland:55; Tauber H (1981) Nature 292:332; Tieszen LL & Farge T 1993 In J.B. Lambert & G. Grupe (eds.), Prehistoric human bone: archaeology at the molecular level. Springer Verlag 121. PhD STUDENTSHIP INTRODUCTION The extant models used to describe subsistence strategies for prehistoric British populations are generally derived from dryland sites and from the Neolithic onwards paint a picture of a dependence upon introduced domestic species for food resources until the Medieval period. However, this model of domestic and, by definition, terrestrial exploitation is not the case for coastal communities where the faunal evidence suggests an on-going relationship with the sea. Coastal ecosystems have extremely high biodiversity and productivity levels and provide a sustainable resource in the face of seasonal fluctuations. These characteristics were exploited from the earliest times resulting in the continual habitation of British archipelagos, however, the intensity of marine exploitation remains unclear despite stable isotopic analyses focused on the identification of dietary composition from changes in the Carbon and Nitrogen ratios (Schulting & Richards, 2002). This leaves archaeologists with a dilemma; if marine foods are consistently present on coastal sites but stable isotope reconstructions provide little evidence of their consumption is there something wrong with the interpretative models? Do marine foods in later prehistory provide an isotopically invisible contribution to the total diet (Milner et al., 2004) or is the contribution of marine resources overestimated? Are they merely seasonally exploited, used to feed livestock or considered famine foods? The level at which marine food consumption becomes archaeologically and isotopically visible has not yet been established with little detailed research focused on fully characterizing marine resource utilization. This studentship will focus on archaeological sites located in the Scottish islands in order to redress this situation. On-going research into these islands economies has produced substantive zooarchaeological data sets from which the contribution of marine and terrestrial resources can be assessed. In addition, the Hebrides can provide an unprecedented continuous ceramic sequence from the Neolithic to the Medieval period for comparative residue analysis. Often in zooarchaeological analyses mammal, bird, fish and shellfish are treated separately and the nature, seasonality and intensity of marine consumption remain unquantified. Thus, opportunities exist to more fully reconstruct human dietary profiles from traditional methods and compare this with residue analyses and supplemented by stable isotope data. Initial research into prehistoric human isotopic signals in the Hebrides once again indicates the invisibility of marine foods (Parker Pearson et al. 2005, 2007) whilst on the Northern Isles there is some evidence of later Pictish marine exploitation (Richards et al. 2005). Detailed analysis of the extant zooarchaeological data in tandem in tandem with selected faunal isotopic values, building upon the initial baseline values (Mulville et al. forthcoming), will allow the development of dietary models against which human stable isotope values and marine biomarker information from the main project can be assessed. RATIONALE The research carried out by the PhD Project Studentship will be highly complementary to that described in the main study but with an emphasis on zooarchaeological analyses supplemented by stable isotope analyses of skeletal remains. Four specific lines of investigation will be pursed 1. Palaeoeconomic analyses of the zooarchaeological assemblages from a range of sites from the Hebrides and Northern Isles (Neolithic to Norse) will produce qualitative and quantitative data on the relative proportions of marine and terrestrial based species on island sites. This will allow the calculation of the contribution of marine species (aquatic, inter-tidal and aerial) to human dietary composition (e.g. fats and proteins) and their overall role in human diets. Detailed zoological and ecological data will allow the modelling of food values for the species repressed, in particular age, sex, season of death will considered as food composition depends upon a number physiological factors. Reference to modern biological data for wild animals and for analogous domestic stock will made and where necessary supplemented by experimental assessment of food composition (e.g. creating utility indices for marine birds and eggs). 2. Zooarchaeological evidence for the processing, preparation and cooking of foods will be examined as dietary composition and nutrient availability also varies with food processing. For example, assessments of intensity of carcass exploitation (e.g. rendering for fat or fragmenting for bone marrow extraction) will provide evidence for the targeting of particular food types. In addition, the problems of the archaeological identification of foods will be considered such as the consumption of foods out with settlements, off-site butchery of particular species (e.g. hunted animals) and the contribution of indirect sources of animal protein e.g. dairy products to the human diet. 3. Residue analyses undertaken by the main project on the unparallel ceramic sequence will provide a complementary dimension to the zooarchaeological and stable isotopic datasets. The identification of a marine signal in pottery will establish the presence/absence of marine foods within vessels and provide supplementary evidence for the degree of exploitation. Conversely, the absence of particular groups of foods from ceramic vessels will inform on the accuracy of dietary reconstruction attempts from residues alone and indicate that other methods of food processing/cooking occurred. 4. Dietary isotopic signals established from human and faunal carbon and nitrogen stable isotope data by the parallel project will be compared to the zooarchaeological data. Although some datasets exist for coastal sites (Schulting and Richards 2002, Parker Pearson et al 2005, Richards 2005) the pathway of isotopes in prehistoric coastal communities has yet to be fully established and the diverse nature of the resources provide a challenging ecosystem to characterise. Where appropriate, targeted sampling for carbon and nitrogen isotopic data from a range of faunal and human remains closely associated with the zooarchaeological assemblages under consideration will be undertaken. This will supplement the stable isotope information provided by the parallel project. RESEARCH PLAN The research will focus on the datasets from the Hebrides and the Northern Isles to provide a substantial chronological spread. The quality of the zooarchaeological record in the islands is without precedent due to the excellent chemical and physical characteristics of the island geologies combined with modern, high quality excavations and the particular richness of the archaeological record. As a result these island groups can provide detailed datasets of the full range of zooarchaeological materials from the Neolithic onwards. In addition to the published material, site archives will be consulted at the Royal Commission in Edinburgh supplemented with further data from the zooarchaeological assemblages held at Cardiff. Permission for isotopic sampling will be available from Historic Scotland. Assemblages will be characterised through standard zooarchaeological analyses (such as number of identified specimens) but other methods for establishing dietary contribution will consider not only the relative ‘meat weights’ provided by marine and terrestrial resources but also the contribution may be secondary products (e.g. milk) and the dietary composition of foods . In particular the contribution made by fats, an important but often ignored food source, which remain isotopically invisible at present will be estimated. RESEARCH TRAINING The student will receive training in all aspects of zooarchaeological analyses under the supervision of Dr Mulville; this will include quantitative and qualitative analyses, modelling the faunal-human dietary interactions and creating utility indices for marine species currently lacking these predictive models. In addition training in the sampling and preparation of osteological material for stable isotope analyses will be given. This material will be sent to the NERC facility for analysis. Archaeological training and advice will be given by Dr Niall Sharples. The University of Cardiff provides safety training, has a Code of Practice for Research Degrees, and the Graduate Centre provides Research Student Skills and Personal Development Program, such as time and project management, research skill and techniques, communication skills, networking and team working and career management. The student will present research findings at national and international conferences and publish in peerreviewed journals. The Cardiff Osteological Research Group (CORG) directed by Dr J. Mulville, in the School of History and Archaeology (RAE 5) is part of a large interdisciplinary research group and so the student will benefit from interaction with other PhD students and PDRAs. The reference and analytical facilities contained within the Centre are or an international standard and have recently been enhanced by the establishment of a collegen extraction facility. References Craig et al. 2005. The identification of prehistoric dairying activities in the Western Isles of Scotland: an integrated biomolecular approach. J. Archaeol. Sci. 32:1: 91-103. Milner et al. 2004. Something fishy in the Neolithic in the Neolithic? Antiquity 78: 9-22. Mulville et al. forthcoming. Isotopic Analysis of Iron Age faunal material from Bornais, South Uist Journal of the North Atlantic. Parker Pearson et al. 2005. Evidence for mummification in prehistoric Britain. Antiquity 79: 305: 529-46. Parker Pearson et al . 2007. Further evidence for mummification in Bronze Age Britain, Antiquity 81: 312. Richards et al 2005. Stable isotope palaeodietary study of humans and fauna from the multiperiod site of Newark Bay, Orkney. J. Archaeol. Sci. 33:1, 122-31. Schulting & Richards 2002. The wet, the wild, and the domesticated: the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition on the west coast of Scotland. European J. Archaeol. 5: 147-89.