Faunal migration in late-glacial central Italy : implications for human resource exploitation

Pellegrini, Maura; Donahue, Randolph E.; Chenery, Carolyn; Evans, Jane; Lee-Thorp, Julia; Montgomery, Janet; Mussi, Margherita. 2008 Faunal migration in late-glacial central Italy : implications for human resource exploitation. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 22 (11). 1714-1726.

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The hunter-gatherer transhumance model presents foragers as specialised hunters of migratory ungulates, which moved seasonally between coastal lowlands and interior uplands. We studied six animal teeth of horse (Equus hydruntinus) and red deer (Cervus elaphus) from four different archaeological sites: the Grotta di Vado all'Arancio, Grotta di Settecannelle, Grotta Polesini and Grotta di Pozzo, in central Italy to test whether the migratory patterns and seasonal variations recorded in their teeth were consistent with expectations of the transhumance model for this region during the late Upper Palaeolithic. Sequential sub-samples of enamel were analysed from each tooth for oxygen, carbon and strontium isotope ratios to reconstruct mobility and yearly seasonal variations. The results show little evidence that these animals were moving over different geological terrains throughout the year, although small variations in Sr isotope ratios and concentrations were detected that corresponded to probable seasonal variations as shown by variability in oxygen isotope sequences. The results do, however, demonstrate that Cervus elaphus and Equus hydruntinus had different ranging behaviours, with the former moving over wider areas than the latter. This methodology produces results appropriate to assess animal migratory behaviour and, in turn, to test the consistency of proposed models of hunter-gatherer subsistence and mobility strategies.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: BGS Programmes 2008 > NERC Isotope Geoscience Laboratory
ISSN: 0951-4198
Date made live: 21 Jan 2010 10:13 +0 (UTC)

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