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Infant feeding practices at the Pitted Ware Culture site of Ajvide, Gotland
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Archaeological Research Laboratory.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Archaeological Research Laboratory.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Archaeological Research Laboratory. University of Tromso, Norway.
2014 (English)In: Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, ISSN 0278-4165, E-ISSN 1090-2686, Vol. 42, 42-53 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The infant feeding practices used at the Pitted Ware Culture (PWC) site of Ajvide on the Baltic island of Gotland were investigated using carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratio analysis. The PWC weremarine hunters with a seal-based economy who lived in the Baltic region during the Middle Neolithic, and were contemporary with the farming Funnel Beaker and Boat Axe Cultures. The carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios of bone collagen from adult females (14 individuals) and bone and dentine collagen from subadult individuals (23 individuals, 55 samples) from Ajvide were analysed. The results showed that the majority of infants continued breastfeeding into the third or fourth year of life. There was some variation in the types of supplementary foods used and the timing of their introduction, perhaps due to seasonal variation in the availability of different resources. One infant, a neonate, had carbonand nitrogen isotope ratios indicative of a much more terrestrial diet than usually consumed by the PWC, suggesting contact with the Neolithic farming populations in the Baltic region. Comparison of the results from Ajvide to those from other PWC sites in the Baltic region reveals that both adult and subadult dietary practices differed slightly between sites.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 42, 42-53 p.
Keyword [en]
Breastfeeding; Weaning; Seasonality; Neolithic; Sweden; Baltic; Stable Isotope; Carbon; Nitrogen; Paleodiet
National Category
Archaeology
Research subject
Archaeological Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-88056DOI: 10.1016/j.jaa.2014.01.001ISI: 000336562600003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-88056DiVA: diva2:610636
Projects
LeCHE
Funder
EU, FP7, Seventh Framework Programme, MC-ITN 215362 LeCHE.
Available from: 2013-03-12 Created: 2013-03-04 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Weaned Upon A Time: Studies of the Infant Diet in Prehistory
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Weaned Upon A Time: Studies of the Infant Diet in Prehistory
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis is concerned with how prehistoric infants were fed in different physical and cultural environments, and in particular what impact the economic, social, and epidemiological changes associated with the development of agriculture had on infant feeding practices. In order to examine these effects, stable isotope ratio analysis has been used to assess the duration of breastfeeding and weaning in a variety of prehistoric contexts. The first study is of Pitted Ware Culture hunter-gatherers at the site of Ajvide on Gotland, Sweden. Breastfeeding usually continued for at least two years, but there was some variation in supplementary foods, which is attributed to seasonal variations in resource availability. The second study analysed a number of Neolithic and early Bronze Age sites from south-east Poland. Breastfeeding duration varied both within and between sites and ranged from six months to five years. The third study found that the infant feeding practices of two Iron Age populations on Öland, Sweden, were very varied, and infants may have been fed differently depending on their social status. The fourth study is of the childhood diet in the Únětice Culture of south-west Poland. Individual diets changed little during the lifetime, suggesting that eventual adult identity was determined early in life. A small number of infants in the study were found to have breastfed for differing lengths of time. The final paper considers the health consequences of introducing animal milks into the infant diet in a prehistoric context, and finds that their availability is unlikely to have made it possible to safely wean infants earlier.

Comparison of the results from the four stable isotope studies to those of other published studies reveals that the modal age at the end of weaning was slightly lower in agricultural communities than hunter-gatherer communities, but the range of ages was similar. Weaning prior to the age of eighteen months was rare before the post-medieval period. It is argued that the gradual reduction in breastfeeding duration since the Neolithic, and the replacement of breastmilk with animal milk products, means that on the whole the development of agriculture probably served to increase infant morbidity and mortality.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Stockholm University, 2013. 96 p.
Series
Theses and papers in scientific archaeology, ISSN 1400-7835 ; 14
Keyword
Infant Feeding, Breastfeeding, Weaning, Milk, Diet, Fertility, Neolithic, Agriculture, Hunter-Gatherer, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Prehistory, Carbon and Nitrogen Stable Isotope Ratios, Bone, Dentine
National Category
Archaeology
Research subject
Archaeological Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-88237 (URN)978-91-7447-662-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-04-19, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
Lactase Persistence and the early Cultural History of Europe (LeCHE)
Funder
EU, FP7, Seventh Framework Programme, 215362
Note

At the time of doctoral defense the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Manuscript; Paper 4: Accepted; Paper 5: Forthcoming 2014

Available from: 2013-03-26 Created: 2013-03-12 Last updated: 2013-08-06Bibliographically approved

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