Paleodietary Analysis of Xiongnu Individuals in Zuunkhangai, Mongolia


The archaeology of the Xiongnu period has grown considerably over the last decade, yet debate still surrounds Xiongnu subsistence practices and the timing for the rise, expansion, and ‘collapse’ of the Xiongnu polity. The problem, in part, has to do with discrepancies between dates that come from the same sites. Some dates have been reported to be earlier when the samples came from human remains. These discrepancies have been attributed to the ‘reservoir effect’. In order to investigate this, we analyzed and dated both human and animal remains from three Xiongnu period 'ring' burials in northwestern Mongolia – the so-called periphery of the Xiongnu Empire. Given this region has many lakes and that isotopically "heavy" δ13C-values have been detected in cases from other regions of Mongolia, it is possible that fishing played a more important role than previously thought in the subsistence economy of some Xiongnu period pastoralists. Accordingly, paleodietary reconstructions based on dental pathology and stable carbon and nitrogen isotopic analyzes were also examined to evaluate how broad the dietary resources might have been and whether these individuals subsisted mainly on terrestrial animals or if fish made up an important enough source of food as to affect 14C dates.

Cite this Record

Paleodietary Analysis of Xiongnu Individuals in Zuunkhangai, Mongolia. Deborah Parrish, Jean-Luc Houle, Jamsranjav Bayarsaikhan, Matthew Fuka. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 442659)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: 46.143; min lat: 33.724 ; max long: 87.715; max lat: 54.877 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 22203