Nitrogen and Strontium Isotopes as Tools for the Reconstruction of Breastfeeding Practices and Human Behavior – A Neolithic Collective Grave in Bronocice (Poland)

Beata Cienkosz-Stepanczak, Aleksandra Lisowska-Gaczorek, Elzbieta Haduch, Rob Ellam, Gordon Cook, Janusz Kruk, Sarunas Milisauskas, Slawomir Koziel, Krzysztof Szostek


Isotopic analyses are often used in biological anthropology and bioarcheology, in studies of ancient human populations. Such analyses in anthropology have been used to study migration patterns, the nutrition strategies of prehistoric populations and the weaning of infants. The main objective of this work was to investigate patterns of breastfeeding and weaning in Neolithic populations at Bronocice in Poland using nitrogen stable isotopes. Additionally, strontium isotope analysis was conducted to determine if the individuals from the collective grave (Burial XIII, Pit 36-B1) at Bronocice were of local origin. The samples consisted of skeletal remains from individuals buried in the collective grave during the early Funnel Beaker-Baden phase (3300-3100 BC). Two models have been used for reconstructing precisely the age at the start and end of weaning (Schurr’s model and WARN model). The results suggest that weaning began in the first year of life and ended at about 3 years of age.


Strontium, Carbon, Nitrogen, Breastfeeding practices, Neolith

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