The Effect of Geography and Culture on Diets in the Baltic Sea Region of Medieval Europe

Izabelle Brown, Sammantha Holder, and Dr. Laurie J. Reitsema, Department of Anthropology, University of Georgia, 355 S. Jackson St. Athens, GA 30602

Diet reconstruction reveals the way of life and culture from different time periods to anthropologists. Location of residence can affect diet by providing different resources like fish from a water source. Meanwhile, culture can shape the foods that are eaten by certain individuals as seen by the lack of shellfish in diets of those that practice Judaism. Isotope analysis is used in archaeology to analyze diets of past human populations by using different isotopes such as carbon and nitrogen taken from bone apatite or dentin. Different isotopes of carbon reflect different vegetables or plants people eat while nitrogen demonstrates a trophic level difference. The objective of this study is to identify the dual influences of culture and geography on people’s diet in northeastern Europe. This study reviews research papers focusing on human remains from archaeological contexts in northeastern Europe which have been previously studied isotopically. The isotope values will be compiled from different populations into a map. Based on geography, it is expected that the majority of groups living near water sources will have a higher nitrogen isotope level. This indicates that individuals are eating a different trophic level, such as fish. If this is not supported, it is possible that there are cultural beliefs affecting diets of individuals in a location with access to water organisms. It is hoped that this survey will be the foundation for a database for the anthropological community to use in the future to better understand the relationship between diet, culture, and environment. 

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Izabelle Brown

Institution: University of Georgia

Type: Poster

Subject: Anthropology & Archeology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 1
Date/Time: Mon 1:30pm-2:30pm
Session Number: 2019