This article reviews current scientific evidence of food resources exploited in the Lithuanian Stone and Bronze Ages and presents the new direct, biochemical stable isotope evidence. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses were performed on 75 Stone and Bronze Age animal bone samples and 23 human bone samples. We discuss how the obtained values relate to diet and other evidence of diet, compare the obtained values with regional stable isotope data, and consider sociocultural implications.
The Funnel Beaker or Tricterbecher (TRB) occupation at Bronocice, southeastern Poland (Małopolska) was based on a mixed farming economy, the cultivation of cereals and the keeping of domesticated animals. A zooarchaeological analysis and interpretation of the faunal assemblage from three phases of Funnel Beaker occupation (3800-3100 BC) revealed significant trends and patterns in animal husbandry practices reflective of increasing social complexity and specialization. In comparison with other sites in southeastern Poland the faunal data from Bronocice stands out as unique among Funnel Beaker sites with the exception of Zawarża.
Analysis of the osteological and archaeological material discovered at the Early Bronze Age settlement of Kretuonas 1C suggests that the settlement’s hunted game and reared animals were slaughtered within the settlement, not far from the dwellings. We analyse the butchering technology of the Early Bronze Age based on Kretuonas 1C’s osteological material. The tools used for butchering and the macroscopic analysis of the slaughtered artiodactyls’ axial skeleton and long bones enabled an assessment of split bone in the butchering area, as well as of chop and cut marks acquired during the butchering process.
If you make your way through the Gotlandic landscape today, you can still see agricultural remains originating from cultivation that took place two-three thousand years ago. The once cultivated land displays itself as systems of conjoined plots surrounded by baulks. The concern of this paper is the social implications this kind of agriculture had during the Pre-Roman Iron Age (500 BC-AD). This was a time when the practice was conventional and field systems were part of people’s surroundings. How did an established, yet changeable landscape structure affect people, and what values, apart from strictly nutritional, did cultivation offer them?
Built in 1252 by the Livonian Order and later passed over to the Teutonic Order, the Klaipėda castle (German – Memelburg) was the northernmost castle of the Order in Prussia. For both geographical and political reasons, it was separated from the hinterlands of the Order’s state, making its survival strategy here specific. This article analyses the zooarchaeological material found during the 1997-1999 archaeological excavations and dated to the 14th-17th centuries. The analysis of the historical data and zooarchaeological material showed that in the 14th-17th centuries, the inhabitants of the Klaipėda castle (the Order’s brothers, their servants, the outwork’s artisans, and the townspeople who hid in the outwork) reared and slaughtered domesticated animals, hunted large game and consumed its meat, processed cheese, ground grain, drank mead and ale. The bulk of the meat consisted of beef, mutton, and pork, as well as goats’ meat starting 1434. An examination of the species and number of bones of domestic and wild animals in Klaipėda’s castle shows that in all of the Klaipėda castle time periods analysed, differences were found between the historical source information and the zooarchaeological collection. Domestic animal bones dominated in the latter, especially that of ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats); pigs comprised the second group according to quantity. The growing quantity of small ruminants (sheep, goats) starting 1434 also is reflected in the zooarchaeological material; from the 16th to 17th centuries, the number of bones of these animals doubled. The amount of riding horses markedly grows in the inventory books starting the middle of the 15th century, and this also is confirmed by zooarchaeological material. When comparing the results of the zooarchaeological material’s analysis with the known 14th-16th century inventories of Klaipėda’s castle in which there are data regarding the domestic animals (cattle, sheep/ goats, horses, pigs) reared for the castle’s needs and the food eaten by the castle’s inhabitants, changes are observed in the faunal species and amounts of the zooarchaeological material that post-date 1521, when 31.25% consists of pig (Sus suis) bones, while the number of species and bone counts of large wild animals (aurochs/ European bison, elk, red deer) and fur-bearing animals (beaver, bear) grows significantly (from 5.5% to 22.92%). Various kinds of fish caught in the sea near Klaipėda and in the Curonian Lagoon held an important place in the diet of the castle’s garrison. Fowl comprised only a small part of the food.
Numerous researchers have stressed significance of tooth wear scoring for evaluation of earlier nutrition patterns and cultural practices. The aim of this study was to evaluate dental occlusal wear in several representative samples. The hypothesis tested was if transition from foraging subsistence to agriculture and later social stratification indeed was reflected by dental wear changes. According to results, the remarkable changes in nutrition patterns in the Baltic region occurred only in the Iron Age, which does not correspond with “classical” Neolithization model. The next substantial change in dental wear patterns is connected with increased social stratification in Late Medieval period.
Archaeological excavations at one of Klaipėda Old Town’s blocks near Kurpių Street provided valuable and unique materials for investigating the development of urbanism in the 16th-17th centuries, the activities, and way of life of the residents. The article presents the results of these investigations and considers some aspects of the town residents’ lifestyle. Mid-16th – second half of the 17th century building construction and interior furnishings, plot layouts, and development of the block’s habitation are analysed. Interpretations are offered based on the archaeological material regarding the activites and lifestyle of the plots’ owners. Results of the newest palaeobotanical and zooarchaeological research are presented in the article. The latter data, along with published historical sources, suggest certain conclusions regarding 16th-17th century Klaipėda townspeople’s diet.
In the course of archaeological excavation in 2004, 2006 and 2007 at the 13th–17th century cemetery of Veselava, in Cēsis District, Latvia, 941 burials were excavated. The osteological material permitted an insight into the palaeodemography and palaeodiet of the medieval inhabitants of Veselava. Demographic research shows that the population was characterised by high mortality among juveniles, aged 15–20, and among women aged 15–35. Among males, the highest mortality was observed at age 30–40, mortality remaining high in the age range of 40–50. As a result, adult life expectancy, e020, is 5.1 years shorter for females than for males. Palaeodietary analysis, utilising inductively coupled plasma atomic mass spectrometry (IC P-MS ), was undertaken on 40 individuals, determining the concentration of seven elements in the bone. In order to assess the natural background level of these elements, 20 soil analyses were also undertaken. The elemental content of male and female bone is similar, although the mean level of Zn and Cu in bone is slightly higher for males, which might indicate higher meat consumption. On the other hand, Sr and Mn values are higher for females, indicating a high proportion of plant foods in the diet. It is thought that the 13th–17th century inhabitants of Veselava often had a meagre diet, and that plant food consumption was higher among women.
A bronze fibula from Dailidės near Joniškis in eastern Lithuania is compared with its analogies found in Mazuria (the Olsztyn group), the Carpathian Basin, the Middle Dnieper region and southeastern Romania. The chronology of the group is established to the late sixth and early seventh century. The series may have originated in Mazuria and spread to other regions in the context of gift-giving exchange between regional elites.