Stable isotope analysis of Late Upper Palaeolithic human and faunal remains from Grotta del Romito (Cosenza), Italy

Oliver E. Craig, Marco Biazzo, André C. Colonese, Zelia Di Giuseppe, Cristina Martinez-Labarga, Domenico Lo Vetro, Roberta Lelli, Fabio Martini, Olga Rickards

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Stable isotope analysis of carbon (δ13C), nitrogen (δ15N) and sulphur (δ34S) were carried out on one of the largest assemblages of Late Upper Palaeolithic human remains in Southern Europe, at Grotta del Romito (Cosenza), Italy. The burials were stratigraphically dated from ca. 18,000 to 13,000calBP, which was confirmed by a series of new AMS dates made directly on the bone collagen. Dietary reconstruction from carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes revealed that eight of the nine individuals analysed, dating to the Final Epigravettian, had very consistent diets, rich in terrestrial animal protein, regardless of their age or sex. These included two individuals who were suffering from severe pathologies. A single individual, dating to the Evolved Epigravettian had a more variable diet, which was significantly enriched in protein from marine or freshwater fish compared to the later burials. Overall, the results are consistent with the very limited number of other studies which describe a change to more specialised and less variable subsistence strategies, in this case the hunting of large herbivores, towards the end of the Palaeolithic period. Sulphur isotope values of all of the nine burials and several faunal samples were notably consistent, showing no evidence of long-distance migration to the site from a different geological zone. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2504-2512
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • AMS
  • Burial
  • Carbon
  • Collagen
  • Diet
  • Epigravettian
  • Nitrogen
  • Stable isotope
  • Sulphur


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