Exploring Cooperation and Hierarchy among Napoleonic Soldiers by Reconstructing Dietary Variation using Stable Isotope Analysis
This is an abstract from the "Cooperative Bodies: Bioarchaeology and Non-ranked Societies" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.
Historical evidence indicates that two strategies characterized diet provisioning in Napoleon’s Grand Army: rationing and cooperative foraging. Drawing on practice theory, we examine which strategy dominated Napoleonic soldier diet during military service. Although the amounts distributed varied by rank and corps, rations canalized military diet. Conversely, cooperative foraging of local resources during distant campaigns contributed to dietary variation. Military and long-term diets were reconstructed through stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratio analysis of Napoleonic soldier rib and femoral bone collagen (n=19) from the mass gravesite of Šiaurės miestelis, Vilnius, Lithuania associated with Russian Campaign retreat of 1812. These diets were compared to determine whether previously discovered long-term diet variation was maintained during military service through cooperative foraging or whether diet became canalized through army rationing. Mean femoral and rib d13C ratios were -17.64‰ +/- 0.87‰ and -19.54‰ +/- 0.45‰ and mean femoral and rib d15N ratios were 10.65‰ +/- 1.86‰ and 11.15‰ +/- 1.51‰. Levene’s F-test indicated statistically significant differences in d13C ratios (F-statistic=3.74, df=18, p=0.008), but not d15N ratios (F-statistic=1.52, df=18, p=0.38). These results indicate that diets later in life were canalized around C3 plants but animal protein consumption varied, suggesting that cooperative foraging was the dominant provisioning strategy.
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Exploring Cooperation and Hierarchy among Napoleonic Soldiers by Reconstructing Dietary Variation using Stable Isotope Analysis. Sammantha Holder, Laurie Reitsema, Tosha Dupras, Rimantas Jankauskas. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450634)
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min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;
Abstract Id(s): 23498