Ancient Diet Reconstruction: A Case Study of Sidon, Lebanon

Document Type: Research Paper

Author

University of Sistan and Baluchestan

Abstract

The present work is associated with dietary reconstruction using δ13C and δ15N analysis of humans from the site of Sidon, a Middle Bronze Age (2000BC-1550BC) settlement in Lebanon. The main objective of this research is to focus on collagen extraction of 23 individual bones, discovered in a cemetery, College site (season 2001-2002) in ancient Sidon. Collagen could only be extracted from the 8 adults and 11 sub adults and one faunal sample excavated during the 2001-2002 seasons. Carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes, which are two important tools in palaeodietary analysis, can tell us about the protein sources of the diet. δ13C values shows the proportion of terrestrial against marine protein in the diet and what sort of photosynthetic pathways, including C3, C4, or CAM, were consumed in populations during their lifetime, while δ15N values reveal the proportion of animal against plant protein and also provide an indication of the age of weaning. In this study according to the carbon isotope values, the results show that these individuals were consuming terrestrial food stuffs, typically C3 plants, including cereals such as wheat, barley, rice, as well as lentils and milk products. The nitrogen isotopes indicate that protein originated from a mixture of terrestrial plant and animal food. The animals probably were herbivores such as sheep and goats, which consumed C3 plants. Also, the nitrogen values estimated age of weaning in infants in this population. Infants were breast-fed and their weaning may have been occurred between the ages of 18 months and 3-4 years. The most surprising results of both isotopes are that no trace of C4 plants or marine products was seen, while the site is situated along the Mediterranean Sea.

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