Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis at Neolithic Çatalhöyük: evidence for human and animal diet and their relationship to households
Abstract The long-term excavations at √áatalh√∂y√ºk, a Neolithic site in central Turkey, have uncovered over 100 houses, which have been associated with at least 400 human skeletons and one million recorded animal bones. This large assemblage has enabled an extensive programme of stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis, which was designed to explore animal hunting and herding practices and how human diet varied according to age, sex, burial practice, location and over time. The isotope values for sheep and cattle show how both were herded in a range of locations which consisted of pure \C3\ and also mixed C3/C4 plant locations. We sampled animals from middens adjacent to the buildings where people were buried to provide house-by-house diet reconstruction. However, very few of the people buried in the houses demonstrate a clear dietary relationship to these associated middens. Similarly, people buried in the same house seem to have had different diets to one another. We argue that these data suggest diet at Neolithic √áatalh√∂y√ºk was a carefully structured, long-lived and repetitious process and that houses may not have functioned as the simple domestic units that they are often assumed to be.