Reassessing the diet of Upper Palaeolithic humans from Gough's Cave and Sun Hole, Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, UK

Reassessing the diet of Upper Palaeolithic humans from Gough's Cave and Sun Hole, Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, UK

Journal of Archaeological Science 37 (2010) 52–61 Contents lists available at ScienceDirect Journal of Archaeological Science journal homepage: http...

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Journal of Archaeological Science 37 (2010) 52–61

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Journal of Archaeological Science journal homepage: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jas

Reassessing the diet of Upper Palaeolithic humans from Gough’s Cave and Sun Hole, Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, UK Rhiannon E. Stevens a, *, Roger M. Jacobi b, c, Thomas F.G. Higham d a

McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3ER, UK Department of Prehistory and Europe, The British Museum, 38-56 Orsman Road, London N1 5QJ, UK c Department of Palaeontology, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK d Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford, Dyson Perrins Building, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK b

a r t i c l e i n f o

a b s t r a c t

Article history: Received 8 April 2009 Received in revised form 17 July 2009 Accepted 31 August 2009

Richards et al. (2000) reconstructed the diet of the human remains found in Gough’s and Sun Hole Cave through isotope analysis. They concluded that these people consumed an entirely terrestrial-based diet. Their reconstruction was based upon comparison of the results from human bones with those from a very small number of associated animals. The diets of the Gough’s and Sun Hole Cave human were different from the other six Upper Palaeolithic humans from the British Isles for which dietary information has been obtained through isotope analysis. The work of Richards et al. (2000) suggests that they were the only ones for whom marine or freshwater resources did not play a significant role in their diets. We test this through further analyses of faunal remains from Gough’s Cave, Sun Hole and other contemporary sites (Kent’s Cavern, Aveline’s Hole, Kendrick’s Cave). Despite the limited faunal sample, the original palaeodietary reconstruction is broadly consistent with our findings. The isotope values of the main protein sources consumed by the humans from both sites are consistent with those of red deer and bovines, and, for a single individual, with that of horse and red deer. Reindeer was postulated in the original reconstruction as a potential food source, but this seems very unlikely based on our isotope reconstruction and the archaeological remains. Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Bone Collagen Carbon Nitrogen Magdalenian Paleolithic Lateglacial

1. Introduction The analysis of carbon and nitrogen isotopes from bone collagen is a widely established technique for reconstructing the diets of ancient humans and animals (Bocherens et al., 1995; Schwarcz and Schoeninger, 1991; Richards and Hedges, 1999; Privat et al., 2002; Pearson et al., 2007). However, within the last ten years, a number of studies have demonstrated that analysis of a significant number of contemporaneous animal species is necessary if one is to reconstruct confidently human palaeodiets. This is because there is significant isotopic variability within populations (Stevens et al., 2006; Bocherens and Drucker, 2006), derived from climatic and environmental influences (Richards and Hedges, 2003; Stevens and Hedges, 2004; Hedges et al., 2004; Bump et al., 2007; Murphy and Bowman, 2006; Stevens et al., 2008). In this paper, we reassess previous dietary reconstruction of Gough’s Cave and Sun Hole humans considered in Richards et al. (2000). Their reconstruction

* Corresponding author. Tel.: þ44 1223339297. E-mail address: [email protected] (R.E. Stevens). 0305-4403/$ – see front matter Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2009.08.019

was based upon comparison of the results from human bones with those from just five associated animals; one red deer (Cervus elaphus), two horses (Equus ferus), one wild cattle (cf. Bos primigenius), and one Arctic fox (Alopex lagopus)(Fig. 1). Richards et al. (2000) restricted their isotope analysis to fauna that had been previously radiocarbon dated on the basis that d15N results from the Oxford Radiocarbon Database were highly variable over the Lateglacial to Holocene transition. Subsequent research has shown that in Northwest Europe faunal d15N values are depleted during the Lateglacial relative to those from the Holocene (Richards and Hedges, 2003; Stevens and Hedges, 2004). To date, stable isotopes have been used to provide information relevant to the dietary adaption of eleven Upper Palaeolithic humans from the British Isles. Marine or freshwater protein has been reported to be a significant part of the diets of five of these individuals (Paviland n ¼ 1, Kendrick’s Cave n ¼ 4 but MNI ¼ 3), and to be a more minor part of the diet for a sixth individual (Eel point n ¼ 1) (Richards, 2000; Richards et al., 2005; Schulting et al., 2005; Bocherens and Drucker, 2006). The humans from Gough’s Cave and Sun Hole are the only Upper Palaeolithic humans from the British Isles that are reported to have consumed an entirely terrestrial-

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Fig. 1. Human and faunal carbon and nitrogen isotope signatures from Gough’s Cave and Sun Hole Cave from Richards et al. (2000) (Redrawn).

based diet (Richards et al., 2000). They concluded that the protein consumed by these humans was sourced primarily from terrestrial herbivores, mainly red deer and wild cattle, and possibly reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) rather than horse. For the reasons outlined above, it is essential to re-evaluate this interpretation through further analyses. Gough’s Cave is part of a large cave-system situated on the southern side of Cheddar Gorge in the Mendip Hills of south-west England (NGR: ST 4670 5391) (Fig. 2). It is the lower part of a cavesystem whose higher parts include Great Oone’s Hole, Long Hole, and Gough’s Old Cave (Jacobi, 2004). Numerous excavations have taken place at the site since the 1890s. Of cave-sites in the United Kingdom, occupied during the Later Upper Palaeolithic, Gough’s Cave contained the largest sample of artefacts and associated faunal remains. The technology found at Gough’s Cave belongs to the Magdalenian and very earliest stage of the succeeding Federmessergruppen industries. Tools found in the cave include ‘‘Cheddar’’ and ‘‘Creswell’’ points. Horses, followed by red deer, are the most abundantly represented fauna (Parkin et al., 1986). Reindeer remains are extremely limited and only present as ˆ tons-perce´s’’. The tooth eruption artefacts – such as antler ‘‘ba patterns of immature red deer from Gough’s Cave suggest that the site was occupied in the winter. However, incremental banding of both red deer and wild horse teeth suggest a summer occupation (Beasley, 1987). Butchery cutmarks are found on many of the animal bones, indicating skinning, dis-memberment, filleting, and the removal of the lower limb tendons and ligaments (Parkin et al., 1986). Cutmarks were also found on the human bones, possibly indicating cannibalism or, alternatively, post-mortem removal of flesh (Currant et al., 1989). Pollen analyses from Gough’s Cave suggest a dry landscape, with a flora dominated by the Liguliflorae/Compositae sub-family including Artemisia, Armeria, and Chenopodiaceae (Leroi-Gourhan, 1986). Trees accounted for less than 10% of the pollen with the dominant species being Betula, Alnus, and Corylus. This suggests a largely open landscape but with some woodland in sheltered valleys. Although small amounts of pine pollen were found at Gough’s Cave, it is likely to have been brought there by wind transport rather than being from local trees (Leroi-Gourhan, 1986). Although sedimentological analysis was carried out at Gough’s Cave, few conclusions could be drawn about the environmental conditions in the region surrounding the cave (Collcutt, 1986). Skeletal remains of four adults and one child from Gough’s Cave were radiocarbon dated during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The radiocarbon determinations ranged from 12,380  110 BP

Fig. 2. Location of sites mentioned in text: 1 ¼ Gough’s Cave, 2 ¼ Sun Hole Cave, 3 ¼ Aveline’s Hole, 4 ¼ Kent’s Cavern, 5 ¼ Kendrick’s Cave.

(OxA-2796) to 11,480  90 BP1 (OxA-2234) (Table 1). A recent research programme focusing on the re-dating Palaeolithic archaeological sites in western Europe using modern pre-treatment methods, including ultrafiltration, has produced a much more consistent and precise set of radiocarbon dates for the humans and fauna from Gough’s Cave (Jacobi and Higham, 2009). This suggests that the previously dated samples may have been affected by various forms of contamination. Three human bones have now been re-dated and give ages ranging between 12,590  50 (OxA 17849) and 12,485  50 BP (OxA 17846). Humanly modified bones have also been re-dated. With one exception, the radiocarbon determinations gave ages ranging from 12,600  80 (OxA-18035) to 12,415  50 BP (OxA-17832). These dates are assumed to relate to the Magdalenian use of the cave. A single cut-marked red deer bone has given a slightly more recent age and tentatively been associated with a Federmessergruppen period occupation (12,245  55 BP: OxA-18067). A full list of the human and animal bones which have been dated is given in Table 1. Sun Hole is a small fissure cave located on the north side of Cheddar Gorge almost opposite to Gough’s Cave (NGR: ST 4673 5408) (Fig. 2). It was excavated in the late 1920s, early 1950s, 1968, and the late 1970s. Stratigraphic unit one at the site contained a small number of Later Upper Palaeolithic artefacts including diagnostic tools, similar to those from Gough’s Cave. The Lateglacial fauna from this site included steppe pika (Ochotona pusilla), wolf (Canis lupus), brown bear (Ursus arctos), wild horse, reindeer and saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) (Currant, in Collcutt et al., 1981); also small mammals. Some of the wild horse remains from Sun Hole are human food debris (Jacobi and Higham, 2009). In the 1980s a human ulna from Sun Hole was radiocarbon dated and gave an age of 12,210  160 BP (OxA-535). This has now been re-dated to 12,620  50 (OxA-19557) Three samples of wild horse from Sun Hole gave dates of 12,610  90 (OxA-14766), 12,545  55 (OxA-

1

In this paper, ages BP are uncalibrated radiocarbon ages.

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14438) and 12,540  75 BP (OxA-14477). A single reindeer bone was dated to 10,145  55 BP (OxA-14827) and therefore is clearly much more recent than human occupancy of the cave (Jacobi and Higham, 2009). 1.1. Stable isotope analysis Palaeodietary reconstruction via isotope analysis is based on the principle of ‘‘you are what you eat’’. Food sources contain different isotopic signatures which are passed along the food chain to their consumers. These signatures are recorded in the body tissues of an animal. The composition of an animal’s body protein (such as bone collagen) primarily reflects that animal’s dietary protein intake (DeNiro and Epstein, 1978, 1981; Ambrose and Norr, 1993; Tieszen and Fagre, 1993) Bone collagen has a slow rate of formation and turnover, and, therefore, reflects the average isotopic composition of an individual’s dietary protein intake over a period of years (Libby et al., 1964; Stenhouse and Baxter, 1979; Ambrose, 1993; Ambrose and Norr, 1993; Tieszen and Fagre, 1993). Carbon and nitrogen results are measured in parts per mille (&) relative to VPDB and AIR standards respectively (Hoefs, 1997). Relative to the plants consumed, carbon isotopes in herbivore bone collagen are þ5& enriched (Tieszen and Boutton, 1988). Carbon isotope signatures are passed up the food chain from prey to consumer. Thus, carnivore isotope signatures reflect the animal protein consumed, which is derived from the plants eaten by the primary consumers. Carbon isotopes have often been used to detect variations in dietary inputs in term of marine versus terrestrial protein (e.g. Schoeninger et al., 1983) or C3 versus C4 plants (e.g. Vogel and van der Merwe, 1977). Some studies suggest that a trophic shift between 0& and þ2& occurs in carbon isotope signatures between diet and consumer (Rau et al., 1983; Schoeninger and DeNiro, 1984; Ambrose and DeNiro, 1986; Peterson and Fry, 1987; Hobson and Welch, 1992; Hobson et al., 1994; Michener and Schell, 1994; Szepanski et al., 1999; Bol and Pflieger, 2002; Bocherens and Drucker, 2003). These suggestions are based on empirical field data, however, a well-defined shift between prey and predator bone collagen d13C values has not been demonstrated through controlled laboratory experiments (Richards et al., 2006). Nitrogen isotopes primarily reflect the position of an animal in the food chain because typically þ3 to þ5& enrichment has been observed in body tissue N values relative to diet with each elevation in trophic level (Minagawa and Wada, 1984; Schoeninger and DeNiro, 1984; Peterson and Fry, 1987; Bocherens and Drucker, 2003). As marine and freshwater food chains are longer than terrestrial ones, the highest d15N signatures are seen in the former. Although diet is the primary factor in determining bone collagen isotope values, climatic and environmental parameters can affect the amount of fractionation within the carbon and nitrogen cycles, resulting in variations in plants and thus animal isotope signatures. Atmospheric CO2 concentration, light intensity, temperature and water availability all affect the d13C of plants (Heaton, 1999). Plant d15N increases with decreasing mean annual temperature and (to a lesser extent) with increasing mean annual precipitation (Amundson et al., 2003). Small-scale d13C and d15N isotope variations in bone collagen have been used to reconstruct past climatic/environmental conditions at a range of archaeological sites (Van Klinken et al., 1994; Cormie and Schwarcz, 1994; Schwarcz et al., 1999; Stevens and Hedges, 2004; Hedges et al., 2006; Stevens et al., 2008). 2. Materials and methods Further isotope analysis of faunal remains from the two sites was conducted to reassess the diet of the Gough’s Cave and Sun

Hole humans. Almost all of the Gough’s Cave fauna come from a wedge of cave-earth and breccia which lay unconformably on an unfossiliferous waterlain conglomerate of limestone and sandstone pebbles (Jacobi, 2004). The archaeological layers do not form discrete assemblages, as shown by refitting studies. A short span of Palaeolithic human occupation is indicated by the new radiocarbon dates (Jacobi and Higham, 2009). For these reasons, the material from the cave is treated as one assemblage. Samples of Arctic hare, brown bear, lynx (Lynx lynx), wild horse, red deer, bovine and wild cattle from Gough’s Cave were isotopically analysed. The carbon and nitrogen results of three dated samples of wild horses from Sun Hole were obtained from the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit’s database. To supplement the isotopic data from these sites, further material has been sampled from penecontemporaneous sites in south-western England, for example Kent’s Cavern, Torquay, Devon (Table 1). Gough’s Cave and Kent’s Cavern are about 100 km apart. The Gough’s Cave humans journeyed over a similar distance to procure flint for artefact manufacture (Jacobi, 2004). Consequently, Kent’s Cavern is a suitable site for comparison with Gough’s and Sun Hole. The reindeer antler from Aveline’s Hole (on the north side of Mendip) has been included because the assemblages at Gough’s Cave, Sun Hole and Kent’s Cavern are almost exclusively dominated by wild horse and red deer. Finally, we have included an isotopic result for a bovine tibia from Kendrick’s Cave (Conwy) (Richards et al., 2005). Again, radiocarbon dates for these elements show that the material is contemporary with the human occupation at Gough’s Cave and Sun Hole (Table 1). Material from the Mendip region, but of a different age, has not been included in this study, because both bone collagen carbon and nitrogen isotope signatures have been shown to vary rapidly during the transition from the Last Glacial Maximum to the Holocene due to changing climatic conditions (Richards and Hedges, 2003; Stevens and Hedges, 2004; Hedges et al., 2005; Stevens et al., 2008). Twenty-eight isotope results were collated from the published literature (Richards et al., 2000; Stevens and Hedges, 2004; Stevens et al., 2008; ORAU Database) (Table 1). Thirty-two samples were prepared and analysed at the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, Oxford. Bone and tooth dentine samples were obtained using a tungsten carbide drill. The surface of the bone or tooth was drilled away to remove any surface contamination, and then a second aliquot of powder (approximately 300– 500 mg) was drilled out and collected. Collagen was extracted by a modified Longin method: samples were demineralised in 0.5 M aq. HCl at 4  C until complete decalcification. Samples were then rinsed three times with distilled water. 0.1 M Sodium hydroxide was added for 30 min to remove humic acids. Samples were then rinsed with distilled water, gelatinised in a pH 3 solution for 48 h at 75  C. The filtered supernatant containing the soluble collagen was then collected, frozen, and lyophilized. Between 2.5 and 3.5 mg of collagen were loaded into a tin capsule for continuous flow combustion and isotopic analysis. Samples were isotopically analysed using an automated Carlo Erba carbon and nitrogen elemental analyser coupled in a continuous flow mode to an isotope ratio-monitoring (PDZ Europa Geo 20/20) mass spectrometer. d13C and d15N results are reported in per mille (&) relative to VPDB and AIR standards, respectively (Hoefs, 1997). Where possible each sample was run in duplicate or triplicate. Replicate measurement errors on laboratory standards (comprising in-house standards of nylon and alanine calibrated against IAEA standards) were less than 0.2& over the period of analysis. Isotope results for three samples were taken from the ORAU database. The analytical errors are larger for these results, potentially as large as 0.3& (Ditchfield pers. comm.). Isotope results from 5 humans and 5 animals are taken from Richards et al. (2000). The analytical error quoted for these results is 0.3& and 0.4& for carbon and nitrogen respectively.

Table 1 List of sample provenance and isotope results. Sample code

Site

Species

Material

Museum number

d13C

d15N

C:N

14

Error

Notes

M13797

Gough’s Cave

Arctic fox

Bone

M13797 spit 11

19.8

4.9

3.2

1200

12400

110

14

A/GNC/B/14 A/GNC/B/15 A/GNC/B/17 A/GNC/B/21 A/GNC/B/19 M49971

Gough’s Gough’s Gough’s Gough’s Gough’s Gough’s

Cave Cave Cave Cave Cave Cave

Arctic hare Arctic hare Arctic hare Arctic hare Brown Bear Bovine

Bone Bone Bone Bone Bone Bone

M13805 M13805 M13805 spit 11 M13805 spit 12 GC90 AREA3 CII 3 M49971 spit 15

20.9 20.6 20.5 20.3 Failed 19.4

0.4 1 0.4 2 Failed 2.8

3.2 3.2 3.2 3.2 Failed 3.1

588

12030

150

14

A/GNC/B/22 A/GNC/B/13 M49955

Gough’s Cave Gough’s Cave Gough’s Cave

Wild cattle Brown Bear Horse

Bone Bone Bone

M49744 spit 11 M13793 M49955 spit 14

19.8 19.7 19.9

2.8 4.2 0.7

3.2 3.3 3.1

813

11900

140

465 17833

12360 12570

170 45

C OxA

14

C date

Gough’s Cave

Horse

Bone

M50024 spit 18

20.2

1.2

3.3

464 17832

12470 12415

160 50

A/GNC/B/29

Gough’s Cave

Horse

Bone

GC 1987; 187

20.3

0.4

3.2

3413 16292

12940 12585

140 55

A/GNC/B/28

Gough’s Cave

Horse

Bone

1987; 191

20.1

3.1

3.2

4106 18064

12670 12520

120 55

A/GNC/B/2 A/GNC/B/3 A/GNC/B/5 A/GNC/B/6

Gough’s Gough’s Gough’s Gough’s

Cave Cave Cave Cave

Horse Horse Horse Horse

Bone Bone Bone Bone

M49969 M49912 M49913 M49797

20 20.4 20.3 20.8

1.2 0.8 0.2 1.4

3.4 3.2 3.2 3.3

3452 18065

12400 12490

110 55

A/GNC/B/20 A/GNC/B/26 A/GNC/B/30

Gough’s Cave Gough’s Cave Gough’s Cave

Horse Horse Horse

Bone Bone Tooth

M50044 19 M49933 14 M50048

20.6 20.6 20.8

0.8 0.9 0.7

3.2 3.2 3.3

11241 12104

12710 12495

90 50

GC2

Gough’s Cave

Human

Bone

GC87/169

18.9

7.1

3.3

2795 17846

11820 12485

120 50

GC6

Gough’s Cave

Human

Bone

GC6 Mandible 1.1/3

19.1

5.4

3.2

2236

11700

100

M23.1/2

Gough’s Cave

Human

Bone

GC M.23.1/2

18.6

6.5

3.3

2237 17847

12300 12565

100 50

GC87/190

Gough’s Cave

Human

Bone

GC87/190

18.5

7.1

3.4

2796 17849

12380 12590

110 50

A/GNC/B/16

Gough’s Cave

Lynx

Bone

GC1986 area;1; 27A

19.7

3.8

3.2

3411 18066

12650 12440

120 55

spit 16 spit 14 spit 14 p4268 8

C from Gowlett et al. (1986) Isotopes from Richards et al. (2000) Cut marks 14 C from Gowlett et al. (1986) 14

C from Gillespie et al. (1985) C from Jacobi and Higham (2009) Isotopes from Richards et al. (2000) Cut marks 14 C from Gillespie et al. (1985) 14 C from Jacobi and Higham (2009) Cutmarks 14 C from Hedges et al. (1994) 14 C from Jacobi and Higham (2009) Cutmarks * originally id as red deer 14 C from Hedges et al. (1994) 14 C from Jacobi and Higham (2009) Cutmarks Cutmarks Cutmarks Cutmarks 14 C from Hedges et al. (1994) 14 C from Jacobi and Higham (2009) Cutmarks Cutmarks? Cutmarks 14 C and Isotopes from Stevens and Hedges (2004) 14 C from Jacobi and Higham (2009) 14 C from Hedges et al. (1991) 14 C from Jacobi and Higham (2009) Isotopes from Richards et al. (2000) 14 C from Hedges et al. (1991) Isotopes from Richards et al. (2000) Almost certainly an underestimate of true age due to organic conservation 14 C from Hedges et al. (1991) 14 C from Jacobi and Higham (2009) Isotopes from Richards et al. (2000) Cut marks 14 C from Hedges et al. (1991) 14 C from Jacobi and Higham (2009) Isotopes from Richards et al. (2000) Cut marks 14 C from Hedges et al. (1994) 14 C from Jacobi and Higham (2009) 14 C from Jacobi and Higham (2009) 14

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R.E. Stevens et al. / Journal of Archaeological Science 37 (2010) 52–61

A/GNC/B/27

C from Hedges et al. (1988) Isotopes from Richards et al. (2000)

56

Table 1 (continued) Sample code

Site

Species

Material

Museum number

d13C

d15N

C:N

14

OxA-466

Gough’s Cave

Red deer

Bone

M49847 spit 13

19.5

2.7

3.1

466 16378

A/GNC/B/1 A/GNC/B/4 A/GNC/B/7 A/GNC/B/9 A/GNC/B/10 A/GNC/B/11 A/GNC/B/12

Gough’s Gough’s Gough’s Gough’s Gough’s Gough’s Gough’s

Cave Cave Cave Cave Cave Cave Cave

A/GNC/B/23 Oxa 587

Gough’s Cave Gough’s Old Cave

Red Red Red Red Red Red Red

deer deer deer deer deer deer deer

Bone Bone Bone Bone Bone Bone Bone

M50037 M49831 M50018 M49948 M50019 M50026 M49758

Reindeer Horse

Bone Bone

spit 18 spit 12 spit 15

spit 11

19.9 19.9 19.8 19.5 20.3 20.3 19.6

2.6 2.3 2.4 2.1 3.9 2.1 2.4

3.2 3.3 3.3 3.2 3.3 3.3 3.2

M49748 spit 11 UBSS M17.2/6

Failed 20.1

Failed 0.7

Failed 3.2

spit 15

C OxA

14

C date

12800 12515

Error

Notes

170 50

14

1071 17845

12300 12500

180 50

587 17834

12530 12380

150 45

Sun Hole

Human

Bone

UBSS M5.13/24

19.8

7.2

3.4

535 19557

12210 12620

160 50

Oxa 14438

Sun Hole

Horse

Bone

UBSS M.5

20.4

1.1

3.2

14438

12545

55

Oxa 14476

Sun Hole

Horse

Tooth

UBSS M5.2/13.1 and 2

20.7

0.4

3.4

14476

12610

90

SH AMS 4

Sun Hole

Horse

Tooth

UBSS M5.2/13.3

20.7

1.1

3.5

14477

12540

75

A/KC/B/24 A/KC/B/33

Kent’s Cavern Kent’s Cavern

Bovine Bovid

Bone Bone

20.0 20.3

2.5 2.4

3.2 3.2

OxA 17544

Kent’s Cavern

Bovid

Bone

Black band 1921 (P7741) Black band 1835 (P7740) estibule Pengelly 2277

19.3

4.6

3.3

17544

12425

45

A/KC/B/1

Kent’s Cavern

Horse

Tooth

Black band

20.6

1.1

3.3

A/KC/B/2

Kent’s Cavern

Horse

Tooth

Black band

20.9

4.3

3.3

A/KC/B/3

Kent’s Cavern

Horse

Tooth

Black band 2233

20.6

0.2

3.3

A/KC/B/4

Kent’s Cavern

Horse

Tooth

Black band 1871

21.0

4.2

3.3

A/KC/B/5

Kent’s Cavern

Horse

Tooth

Black band 1932

20.5

1.2

3.3

A/KC/B/7

Kent’s Cavern

Horse

Tooth

Black band 2203^

20.6

2.6

3.3

A/KC/B/10

Kent’s Cavern

Horse

Tooth

Black band 1943a

20.5

2.4

3.3

A/KC/B/11

Kent’s Cavern

Horse

Tooth

Black band 1957

20.7

1.1

3.2

A/KC/B/41

Kent’s Cavern

Horse

Tooth

P6757 KC1

20.3

1.5

3.2

Cutmarks Cutmarks Cutmarks 14 C from Hedges et al. (1987) 14 C from Higham and Jacobi (2009) Cutmarks 14

C from Gowlett et al. (1986) C from Jacobi and Higham (2009) Isotopes from Richards et al. (2000) Cutmarks 14 C from Gowlett et al. (1986) 14 C from Jacobi and Higham (2009) Isotopes from Richards et al. (2000) 14 C from Jacobi and Higham (2009) Isotopes from ORAU Fractured 14 C from Jacobi and Higham (2009) Isotopes from ORAU Fractured 14 C from Jacobi and Higham (2009) Isotopes from ORAU 14

14 C and isotopes from Jacobi and Higham (in prep) Cutmarks Isotopes from Stevens and Hedges (2004) Isotopes from Stevens and Hedges (2004) Isotopes from Stevens and Hedges (2004) Isotopes from Stevens and Hedges (2004) Isotopes from Stevens and Hedges (2004) Isotopes from Stevens and Hedges (2004) Cut marks Isotopes from Stevens and Hedges (2004) Isotopes from Stevens and Hedges (2004) Isotopes from Stevens and Hedges (2004)

R.E. Stevens et al. / Journal of Archaeological Science 37 (2010) 52–61

Sun Hole 2

C from Gillespie et al. (1985) C from Jacobi and Higham (2009) Isotopes from Richards et al. (2000) Cut marks Cutmarks

14

R.E. Stevens et al. / Journal of Archaeological Science 37 (2010) 52–61

57

14 C from Hedges et al. (1987) New radiocarbon date Isotopes from Stevens et al. (2008) 14 C from Hedges et al. (1987) Jacobi and Higham (2009) Cutmarks 14 C from Richards et al. (2005)

Isotopes from Stevens and Hedges (2004) Tooth dated, isotope sample is bone 14 C and isotopes from Jacobi and Higham (in press-b) Cut marks 14 C and isotopes from Jacobi and Higham (in press-b) Cutmarks

3. Results and discussion Three of the thirty-two samples failed to produce enough collagen for isotope analysis. The C/N atomic ratios ranged between 2.9 and 3.6 (see Table 1). This is considered to be indicative of good collagen preservation (DeNiro, 1985; Ambrose, 1990). Of the collagen extracts all contained percentage carbon and nitrogen that were higher than 8% and 3% respectively which, again, is considered be indicative of well-preserved collagen (DeNiro, 1985; Ambrose, 1990). The d13C and d15N values of the fauna analysed are listed in Table 1.

100 12410

Failed

3.3

3.2

3.3

Failed

2.6

2.1

2.8

Failed

19.0

20.1

20.5

6146

130 50 12380 12565

12480 12535 3.4 3.7 20.8

1122 18075

3.3 1.5 20.0

1121 17722

130 55

60 12500 17545

50 12315 3.2 1.7 20.4

17723

3.3 1.0

The new stable isotope data add appreciably to the body of Lateglacial faunal isotope measurements from the British Isles. All herbivores in this study have d13C signatures typical of individuals consuming C3 plants. They show the very low faunal d15N typical for this period (Richards et al., 2000; Richards and Hedges, 2003; Hedges et al., 2004, 2005; Stevens and Hedges, 2004; Stevens et al., 2008). Holocene horse d15N signatures, for example, usually range from 4 to 10& (Stevens and Hedges, 2004), whereas those in this study range from 0.2 to 4.3&. There are patterns in the isotope values of different species. Horses are often more depleted than ruminants in d15N due to differing amounts of fractionation associated with ruminant and non-ruminant digestive physiologies (Fig. 3). Red deer and bovines (including wild cattle) have similar isotopic signatures. The single reindeer is enriched in d13C compared to other herbivores. The omnivore and carnivores (brown bear, arctic fox and lynx) have similar isotope values to each other, but are substantially lower in d15N than the human isotope signatures, suggesting they are at a lower trophic level. No difference in herbivore d13C or d15N values is observed between Gough’s Cave and the other sites.

O25 Bone

Aveline’s Hole

Kendrick’s Cave

A/AV/B/1

A/KEN/B/1

Bovine

X Bone

Aveline’s Hole A/AV/B/7

Red deer

Antler

Kent’s Cavern A/KC/B/26

Reindeer

Kent’s Cavern A/KC/B/25

Red deer

Tooth

Black band 1885 (P7746) Black band 1847 (P7744) X Tooth

Kent’s Cavern A6216

Red deer

A6216 Tooth

Kent’s Cavern NHM117

Horse

Kent’s Cavern

Horse

Bone

NHM 117

3.2. Implications for human dietary reconstruction

A/KC/B/42

Horse

Bone

Cave earth 1864 (M566)

20.8

6669

12330

90

3.1. Faunal isotope signatures

Based on their limited isotopic investigations, Richards et al. (2000) concluded that the protein consumed by the Gough’s Cave and Sun Hole humans came primarily from terrestrial herbivores, mainly red deer and bovines, and possibly reindeer rather than horse. This, despite the fact that wild horse is, by far, the most abundant species present at Gough’s Cave. To calculate the isotopic signature of the protein fraction consumed by the humans, Richards et al. (2000) used a trophic fractionation of 3 to 5& for nitrogen, but did not take into account the possible shift between predator and prey carbon isotope values. As previously mentioned, shifts between prey and predator bone collagen d13C values have not been demonstrated through controlled experiments, and are only suggested by empirical data (Richards et al., 2006). Thus, the approach taken by Richards et al. (2000) is not unreasonable. However, the human isotope signatures at Gough’s Cave are more positive than the associated herbivores (horse, red deer and bovines) once the trophic level effect is taken into account (Fig. 1). Richards et al. (2000) suggested this shift could be due to the consumption of reindeer. Although not isotopically analysed for their study, reindeer usually have similar d15N values to red deer, but more positive d13C values due to their consumption of lichen. Reindeer skeletal remains from Gough’s Cave are extremely sparse, and there is no evidence that this animal had been hunted at the site, although a few artefacts were made from reindeer antler. Our new data allow us to reassess the diet of the Gough’s Cave and Sun Hole humans. By applying the same prey to predator trophic level shifts as Richards et al. (2000) (3 to 5& for d15N and 0& for d13C) we have calculated isotopic signatures for the main

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Fig. 3. Human and faunal carbon and nitrogen isotope signatures from Gough’s Cave, Sun Hole Cave, Aveline’s Hole, Kent’s Cavern and Kendrick’s Cave.

prey consumed by each of the humans (Fig. 4). The inferred main prey consumed by the Sun Hole human corresponds with the values for red deer and bovines from Gough’s Cave. This is consistent with the findings of Richards et al. (2000). The calculated isotopic signature of the main prey consumed by the Gough’s Cave humans is not consistent with any of the species analysed from this site. However, the calculated isotopic signatures of the main prey consumed by these humans do correspond with the isotope signatures of the reindeer from Aveline’s Hole, again supporting the conclusions of Richards et al. (2000). Nevertheless, there is a significant inconsistency between this interpretation and the

archaeological evidence in that reindeer are remarkably rare in the early part of the Lateglacial Interstadial in the British Isles (Jacobi, 2004). Indeed, the sole evidence that reindeer were present on Mendip at this time comes from a single radiocarbon determination from Aveline’s Hole (OxA-18075). Assuming this interpretation to be correct, the humans from Gough’s Cave must have hunted reindeer at an unknown location. Rockman (2003) demonstrated that Magdalenian lithic procurement networks in the British Isles were very elongated, with Gough’s Cave sharing the same source (the Vale of Pewsey) as Magdalenian sites in Creswell Crags, over 200 km to the north. Based on these procurement networks Pettitt

Fig. 4. Human and faunal carbon and nitrogen isotope signatures from Gough’s Cave, Sun Hole Cave, Aveline’s Hole, Kent’s Cavern and Kendrick’s Cave. Black lines indicate range of calculated isotopic signatures of the main prey consumed by each of the humans using a prey to predator trophic level shifts of 3–5& for d15N and 0& for d13C.

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Fig. 5. Human and faunal carbon and nitrogen isotope signatures from Gough’s Cave, Sun Hole Cave, Aveline’s Hole, Kent’s Cavern and Kendrick’s Cave. Black boxes indicate range of calculated isotopic signatures of the main prey consumed by each of the humans using a prey to predator trophic level shifts of 3 to 5& for d15N and 0.8 to 1.3& for d13C.

(2008) has speculated that Magdalenian humans in the British Isles may have hunted reindeer and horse in northern regions such as the Peak District and horse and red deer in the southern Britain. An alternative, possibly more plausible explanation, is that the parameters used to calculate the isotopic signatures of the main prey consumed by the humans are incorrect. As previously mentioned, several studies have suggested that a trophic shift occurs in carbon isotope signatures between prey and consumer (reviewed in Bocherens and Drucker, 2003). A shift of 0.8 to 1.3& between prey and predator d13C values was determined for the Upper Palaeolithic by Bocherens and Drucker (2003), based on empirical data. If both carbon and nitrogen trophic fractionations are included when the isotopic signature of the protein fraction consumed by the humans is calculated, the palaeodietary reconstruction is substantially changed (Fig. 5). The calculated isotopic signature of the main prey consumed by three of the Gough’s Cave humans corresponds well with the isotopic values of the red deer and bovines from Gough’s Cave, and the fourth (specimen GC6) matches with the isotopic signatures of horse and red deer as well. This interpretation is more consistent with the cut-marked faunal assemblage from Gough’s Cave and the surrounding region. The calculated isotopic signature of the main prey consumed by the Sun Hole human does not correspond with any of the fauna from Mendip, but does match with the isotope signatures of red deer and some horses from Kent’s Cavern. By accounting for both carbon and nitrogen trophic level shifts, the palaeodietary reconstructions based on isotopic data produce results that are more consistent with the archaeological remains of cut-marked red deer at Gough’s Cave. However, horse is the main species represented in the fauna from Gough’s Cave and is also present at Kent’s Cavern. Although wild horses were clearly being consumed, as indicated by butchery traces, only one of the Gough’s Cave humans appears to be obtaining a substantial amount of his/her protein from horse. Thus, it is clear that the humans from Gough’s Cave and Sun Hole were not consuming horse in substantial quantities throughout the year. It appears that Gough’s Cave was a seasonally occupied site for the

specialist hunting of horse, and that red deer and bovines were the primary protein consumed by the Gough’s and Sun Hole humans. This provides welcome broad confirmation for the study by Richards et al. (2000). 4. Conclusions Isotope analysis of further fauna from Gough’s Cave, Sun Hole and other contemporary sites has allowed us to test the conclusions reached by Richards et al. (2000). Surprisingly, despite their limited faunal sample, the original palaeodietary reconstruction is broadly consistent with our findings. The isotope values of the main protein sources consumed by the humans from both sites are consistent with those of red deer and bovines, and, for a single individual, with that of horse and red deer. Although reindeer was postulated in the original reconstruction as a potential food source, it seems unlikely based on the isotope reconstruction and the archaeological remains that this was the case. Acknowledgements We would like to thank Peter Ditchfield for technical assistance with isotopic analysis. We would like to thank Christopher Hawkes, the University of Bristol Spelaeological Museum, Wells Museum, Torquay Museum, and Christopher Stringer and Andy Currant at the Natural History Museum for providing samples for isotope analysis. RS is in receipt of a Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellowship and is grateful for support from the Royal Society and NERC (NER/S/A/ 2000/03522). We would like to thank Mike Richards for his comments on an earlier version of this paper. References Ambrose, S.H., 1990. Preparation and characterization of bone and tooth collagen for isotopic analysis. Journal of Archaeological Science 17, 431–451. Ambrose, S.H., 1993. Isotopic analysis of palaeodiets: methodological and interpretive considerations. In: Sandford, M.K. (Ed.), Investigations of Ancient Human Tissue. Gordon & Breach Science Publishers, Langhorne, PA, pp. 59–130.

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