Excavation and palaeodietary analysis of Bronze Age human remains from Boyanovo, Yambol province

Karen Privat, Adela Sobotkova, Stefan Bakardzhiev, Victoria Russeva

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The three mounds located at the mortuary site of Boyanovo on a limestone outcrop above the Thracian Plain were surveyed by the Tundzha Regional Archaeology Project (TRAP) in 2009. It is located at the convergence of the southeastern Balkans and the Eurasian steppe and border-steppe regions. Across these geographical regions and beyond, the Bronze Age was a period of flux, with a tendency toward increased mobility for portions of communities or entire groups. The increasing economic dependence of humans upon their domestic animals in the Bronze Age and subsequent Iron Age is reflected in the archaeological evidence for a shift toward domesticated animal remains over wild or agricultural resources. The location, chronology, and burial context of the human remains recovered from the mortuary site of Boyanovo link these individuals with contemporary pastoral trends. In this study, stable isotope analysis of collagen extracted from the bones of 14 individuals is applied to investigate dietary patterns within the Boyanovo population. Data from this study is compared to other archaeological communities with palaeodietary habits including diets high in freshwater fish, terrestrial domesticates (plants and animals), and millet. This analysis elucidates a critical aspect of daily life, subsistence, complementing the mortuary information available from the archaeology of the site. The results indicate that humans interred at Boyanovo were relied upon terrestrial fauna for their dietary protein. Carbon stable isotope values of the population reflect a mixed C3-C4 diet, either from regular, direct consumption of C4 plants (especially millet) or the frequent consumption of animals grazed or foddered on a high-C4 diet
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Tundzha Regional Archaeology Project
Subtitle of host publicationSurface Survey, Palaeoecology, and Associated Studies in Central and Southeast Bulgaria, 2009-2015 Final Report
EditorsShawn Ross, Adela Sobotkova, Georgi Nekhrizov, Julia Tzvetkova, Simon Connor
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxbow Books
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9781789250541
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

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  • Boyanovo
  • Bronze Age
  • burial mounds
  • isotope analysis
  • paleodiet
  • mortuary archaeology


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